In years past, I used to write a “rootability index” for teams in MLS Playoffs, mostly in the years when the team I covered wasn’t in the postseason.
Now, LAFC are in the MLS Cup final and on Saturday, they’ll host the Philadelphia Union at The Banc. I won’t lie to you, I quite like the Union, but they aren’t my team. Obviously I’m team black-and-gold all the way.
If you have no rooting interest for MLS Cup but you can be persuaded for a game, why should you root for LAFC on Saturday? I’m about to throw the kitchen sink at you to make you a fan for a day.
Their games are always entertaining
Bang for your buck, LAFC have played very, very few boring games over the past five years. They’ve probably played the fewest blah games of any team in MLS in that span. In fact, many times, their games are way more entertaining than the fans would like them to be!
This year, head coach Steve Cherundolo has done a good job providing actual balance to the team’s style of play, over the previous “attack or bust” strategy of Bob Bradley. You could argue Cherundolo’s attention to strong defense has helped them get to the MLS Cup final. Still, the games are seldom boring. This is not a 0-0 team — they had zero scoreless competitive games this year. Whether they’re winning, losing or see-sawing on either side of a draw, goals are always involved and most of the time, it’s a lot of fun. If you’re a true neutral, that’s probably the top priority.
This could be an historic team
LAFC have raised the Supporters’ Shield, and if they raise the MLS Cup too, they’ll have grabbed a Shield/MLS Cup domestic double for just the sixth time in MLS history. The last time in happened was in 2017, so this isn’t something that comes along every year.
Considering how talented LAFC’s roster is — top-end stars, good domestic veterans, promising imports and all — they’re not lucking into what they’ve done. They’ve done their part to be on the verge of the double and it would be huge to see another club write their name in the history books.
But they play as a team
What’s funny is no LAFC player (or coach) won an individual season award this year. Yes, Cristian Arango was a finalist for MLS MVP, but he wasn’t a top candidate and it’s not a shock he didn’t win the award. It’s not that he had a bad season, because he had a good season, but who would LAFC’s MVP be? I bet if you asked 10 people who watched LAFC week in, week out, you’d get at least seven different answers.
And that points to this team playing as an actual team. Pretty much every player who saw real time this season played very well. But they played as a collective. Unlike 2019, they didn’t ride a supernova season from Carlos Vela, but everyone did their part. Even though LAFC is a star-studded team, they genuinely play like a bunch of lunch-pail guys together this year.
And yet, star power!
Ok, Gareth Bale has been a total non-factor in the playoffs so far, but maybe he’ll do something amazing in a final again? He’s done it before in his career.
But Vela is still playing very well — not MVP level, but still contributing at a good clip — and Giorgio Chiellini has been a great addition to the squad and lineup. Beyond the top-line marquee names, LAFC have more “MLS level” stars, too, with Arango and Denis Bouanga giving you a more hipster option regarding stars.
A nationality for (almost) everyone
15 nationalities are represented on LAFC’s squad, so if you happen to be partial to, say, Ghanaians, Latif Blessing and Kwadwo Opoku are here! Mexicans? Got you covered! Spanish (ok, actually Catalans), a Canadian, Ecuadorians, an Argentine and of course, Americans, among others. If you want to root for LAFC simply because they have Colombian players, welcome aboard, we’re happy to have you.
The primary kit looks amazing
LAFC’s primary look is a good calling card, but the 2022 jersey is the best yet. The art deco design and the centered crest set it apart as better than the usual fare, and considering the number of MLS kits that are either focus grouped to death or “designed” in about 15 minutes, we should reward a hot kit for being awesome.
LAFC are the handsome guys
Ok, I admit we’re getting into the weeds here, and handsomeness is entirely in the eye of the beholder, and no offense to the Union fellas at all, there’s definitely some good-looking guys there. But LAFC has a fair few lookers. Listen, if the play, the history in the offing, the team ethic, the stars on display, the nationalities represented and the uniforms don’t sway you, maybe it comes down to the most base sensation, and if that’s what it takes to make you an LAFC fan for at least a day, so be it!
What do you think? Leave a comment below.