Smell that? That’s the smell of a fresh MLS Schedule dropping! That’s right, the first official sign of the new campaign is now here. In recent years, this was a post about revenge tours, focusing on key matches that would define the course of the season, and all the other cliches that come with hunting for the first championship. However, this time around, the hunters are the hunted, and LAFC come into 2023 not only as the team everyone wants to play against, but the one everyone wants to beat a lot more than usual. While you shouldn't want to miss a single second of the action as LAFC defend their championship, we have compiled a handful of matches that you should do everything in your power to make sure you either attend, or stay glued to your monitor as to not miss a thing.
El Tráfico - 2/25, @ LAG 4/16, vs LAG 9/16
Let’s be honest, they should just drop the schedule with these matches already circled because we all know this is the first matchup both sides look for. This year however, it somehow got even bigger. The 2023 MLS Season will kickoff with an El Tráfico, as LAFC’s first title-defending match is against those hated LA rivals, LA Galaxy. Not only do they meet up on match day one, but they do so on a stage fitting the occasion, as the teams do battle from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. That’s right, the biggest stage LA has will once again welcome soccer in what is sure to be the biggest season opener, possibly in the history of the league. If you don't have tickets, you better hurry up and get some, because you won't want to miss this one.
New Kids on the Block - vs St. Louis 5/16, @ St. Louis 9/20
It wasn’t that long ago when LAFC were the new team in the league, with every match bringing brand new experiences. That's why it's always fun to welcome a new team into MLS. LAFC missed the chance to play Nashville SC when they first arrived due to Covid restrictions, but in 2023 the team will welcome newest additions, St. Louis City. While the team does play St. Louis home-and-away, it's that first match at The Banc that has our attention. Playing LAFC in their house has quickly become one of the toughest things to do in the league, so seeing how the new kids handle that environment will definitely show us a lot in terms of where they are, and how they handle adversity like that.
Cinco de Mayo Celebrations - SJ Earthquakes @ Levi Stadium 5/6
Usually when we talk about the San Jose Earthquakes going up against an LA side, it’s the original California rivalry with the LA Galaxy, however when you're defending champions, everyone wants a piece of you. That is no different for San Jose, who chose to host LAFC for one of the bigger events of the season. San Jose will be hosting a weekend of Cinco de Mayo festivities, playing at Levi’s Stadium for only the second time in club history. Schedules for the most part are essentially the same every year, so anytime the league has events like this, and especially when it's teams from the same state, it’s always a must-attend affair.
Green with Envy - vs Austin FC 4/8, @ ATX 10/7
Austin FC is as close to a “little brother” as LAFC will possibly ever get. A team that joined MLS shortly after the black-and-gold and used a lot of the same techniques in growing their fanbase. Despite being new to the league, both sides have developed a cult-like following and made their home stadiums hell for the opposition. They both even came out the gates flying, finding success on the pitch. Austin has also been a team that has not feared LAFC, and has stood toe-to-toe with the MLS Champs on several occasions. However, the last time these two met, it was LAFC going full older sibling and putting three past Austin as they eliminated them from the playoffs. Revenge is definitely on the minds of Austin, and the meeting in April, at The Banc, will be Austin FC’s first chance for some sweet get-back.
World Cup Champion? - vs Inter Miami 9/2
This one is a bit of a bonus. Let us be VERY CLEAR, the Messi to Miami report is NOT official, and it is NOT a done deal. However, the rumors are such that it is all but expected at this point in time, that we see the newly crowned World Cup Champion find his way to Miami before the 2023 season ends. That makes this September matchup in LA that much more tasty, as it could be your chance to see the GOAT live and in-person. Again, it’s all just wishful thinking at the moment, but on the off chance Messi does indeed join the MLS side, this will be one of those matches that sells out immediately if it hasn't already.
There you have it, just a handful of the bigger matches for LAFC this year. The team will have an even bigger target on their backs as they look to defend their MLS Cup, but being on the receiving end of a club's best is nothing new to the black-and-gold.
What matches are you looking forward to the most? Leave a comment below!