Los Angeles FC Profile
|Major Honours||MLS Supporters' Shield (1)|
Former USA boss Bob Bradley has already led LAFC to a CONCACAF Champions League final and multiple MLS play-offs.
Los Angeles Football Club, known as LAFC, were unveiled as an MLS franchise on October 30, 2014, with the new expansion team set to debut in 2018. The announcement kept two teams in Los Angeles after the dissolution of Chivas USA. The team name was revealed on September 15, 2015, by principal owner Henry Nguyen. Former US men's national team manager Bob Bradley was hired to run the team in July 2017 with general director John Thorrington helping to sign players.
The club's colours and logo were revealed on January 7, 2016. The primary colours are black and gold, while the team uses red and grey as secondary colors. The crest is a shield in black and gold with the initials LA sandwiched between 'Los Angeles' on top and 'Football Club' on the bottom. The A in LA depicts a wing, representing power, strength and speed. The outline of the shield in black and gold comes from the seal of the city of Los Angeles.
The team's nickname is The Black and Gold and LAFC play at the Banc of California Stadium. The soccer-specific arena was built in Exposition Park next to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and cost $250million. The stadium holds 22,000 fans and is expected to host men's and women's soccer matches plus some athletics events at the 2028 Summer Olympics. Banc of California Stadium has been used for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, rugby matches, Premier Lacrosse League games, boxing events, esports events and concerts.
Nguyen is currently the vice-chairman, while Peter Guber serves as the executive chairman. Brandon Beck, Larry Berg and Bennett Rosenthal took over as managing owners in 2016. The team has multiple celebrities as minority owners, including Will Ferrell, Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm-Garciaparra and Magic Johnson. Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan owned 20% of the team until 2020.
Bradley is the only manager in team history and LAFC hit the ground running, enjoying success swiftly. They have made the MLS Cup play-offs in all three of their seasons so far and reached at least the quarter-finals in both US Open Cups in which they have participated. LAFC won the 2019 Supporters' Shield and were runners-up in a contentious 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.
LAFC's big-name players over the last three seasons include Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Benny Feilhaber, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Walker Zimmerman, Latif Blessing, Christian Ramirez, Brian Rodriguez and Tyler Miller.
The inaugural season
With Bradley's history at Princeton University, in MLS with Chicago Fire and NY/NJ MetroStars, and his international experience with the USA and Egypt, LAFC had a veteran manager for their first season. They added Mexican forward Carlos Vela from Real Sociedad on a free transfer and traded allocation money to FC Dallas for defender Walker Zimmerman. In the Expansion Draft, they added goalie Tyler Miller and forwards Latif Blessing and Marco Urena. They signed forward Diego Rossi on a transfer from Uruguay and traded money for Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber. LAFC also drafted defenders Joao Moutinho and Tristan Blackmon.
Their first-ever match was in Seattle on March 4, 2018, and Rossi scored the game's only goal. After winning their first two games, LAFC played their first 'El Trafico' derby against LA Galaxy as the away team. Vela scored twice as LAFC built a 3-0 lead, but Galaxy won 4-3 as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in the last 13 minutes. Their home opener was on April 29 and Laurent Ciman scored the only goal of the game in a 2-0 win over Seattle in front of 22,000 fans.
LAFC won seven away games in that inaugural season and set an MLS record for most points by an expansion team with 57. The seven road wins tied the MLS record for an expansion team, and their 68 goals were the second-most ever by a first-year squad.
LAFC clinched a play-off spot with a 3-0 home win over Colorado Rapids on October 6 and went 1-1-1 in the final three games. As the No. 3 seed in the West, the Black and Gold hosted No. 6 Real Salt Lake in the knockout round. LAFC led 2-1 after Christian Ramirez scored in the 54th minute, but a goal in the 58th and an own goal in the 69th gave RSL a 3-2 win.
In their first-ever US Open Cup, the Black and Gold made a deep run. They beat Fresno FC and Sacramento Republic in their first two games, with Rossi and Blessing scoring in each tie. In the quarter-finals, they hosted and beat Portland Timbers 3-2 with goals from Vela and Urena. Rossi scored a hat-trick in Houston in the semi-finals, including an equaliser in the 95th minute. However, the Dynamo prevailed 7-6 on penalties as Blessing missed in the eighth round.
LAFC win the Supporters' Shield
Before the 2019 season, LAFC traded Moutinho to Orlando City SC in exchange for defender Mohamed El Monir. They also added Colombian defender Eddie Segura. However, the story of 2019 was Vela. After scoring 15 goals in 2018, he exploded to net 38 goals in 2019, winning the MLS Most Valuable Player Award and the Golden Boot. He scored a league-record 34 times in MLS games, with two more in the US Open Cup and two in the play-offs. Rossi complemented Vela with 18 goals in total, while Adama Diomande had 12.
LAFC went unbeaten through their first seven games and in 15 of their first 16. Vela scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over San Jose on March 30, while Rossi hit his own treble seven days later in a 4-0 win over D.C. United. In July, LAFC beat Sporting Kansas City 5-1 and followed it up five days later with a 6-1 win over Vancouver. They finished the season with 72 points and won the Supporters' Shield by eight points over NYCFC. The Black and Gold scored a league-record 85 goals, 22 more than the next-best tally, and they conceded a league-low 37 for a +48 goal difference.
In their first play-off game, LAFC hosted cross-town rivals LA Galaxy on October 24 in front of 22,902 fans. Vela scored in the 16th and 40th minutes before the Galaxy tied the game in the 41st and 55th minutes. Rossi scored 11 minutes later and Diomande added two goals as LAFC went on to win their first play-off game 5-3. LAFC then hosted the Western Conference final and took an early lead through Eduard Atuesta, but Seattle Sounders scored twice in the first half en route to a 3-1 win and ultimately the MLS title.
LAFC again made the quarter-finals of the US Open Cup in 2019. They beat Real Salt Lake 3-0 and San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 in their first two games as Vela and Diomande scored in each. LAFC hosted their quarter-final but were shut out 1-0 by Portland Timbers on July 10, one of just four times in 39 games they failed to score in the season.
An interrupted 2020 season
LAFC entered the 2020 season as favourites coming off a record-breaking campaign. They added forward Bradley Wright-Phillips from Red Bulls and goalie Kenneth Vermeer from Feyenoord. Tyler Miller was traded to Minnesota United FC while defender Walker Zimmerman was traded to Nashville SC.
The 2020 season started with the CONCACAF Champions League and a two-legged tie against Mexican side Leon. Following a 2-0 defeat in Mexico, LAFC got two goals from Vela and a strike from Rossi to win at home 3-0 and advance to the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate. The rest of the tournament was delayed until December due to COVID-19.
The MLS season started with a 1-0 win over expansion side Inter Miami CF and a 3-3 draw against Philadelphia, with Vela scoring in both games. The season was paused from March until July, and Vela missed the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando to be with his pregnant wife. Wright-Phillips scored his first LAFC goal in the opening group game as the side rallied from a two-goal deficit to draw against Houston 3-3. Rossi scored four times in a 6-2 rout of the Galaxy, and LAFC advanced from the group stage with a 2-2 draw against Portland. Rossi scored twice in a 4-1 win over Seattle in the last 16, but LAFC were upset by Orlando City SC in a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw.
When the regular season resumed, LAFC lost at home to LA Galaxy 2-0 and Vela was injured on his return. He missed the next two months and the team won five, drew one and lost six in his absence. In July, they added Christian Torres as a homegrown player and Demande left the team in August. Vela returned to score against Galaxy in a 2-0 win on October 25. LAFC clinched a play-off spot by beating Houston on October 28. They again faced the Seattle Sounders in the play-offs and lost 3-1.
The Champions League resumed in December and all games were played behind closed doors in Orlando. LAFC faced Mexico's Cruz Azul in the quarter-finals and both teams scored from the spot in the first half, with Vela netting LAFC's equaliser. Kwadwo Opoku scored in the 71st minute to give LAFC a 2-1 win. The semi-final on December 19 was wild, with each team having a player sent off, and Club America's coach was ejected as well. The Mexican side led 1-0 at half time with LAFC down to 10 men, but Vela scored two goals in two minutes. America received a red card in the 79th minute and Blessing secured the win with a 95th-minute goal.
In the Champions League final on December 22, LAFC faced their fourth-straight Mexican opponents in the tournament. Rossi gave the Black and Gold the lead in the 61st minute, but UANL scored twice in 12 minutes to win the game 2-1.
LAFC's main rivals are across town, with their games against LA Galaxy officially known as the Los Angeles Derby. However, the clashes are more commonly referred to as El Trafico, a pun on the El Clasico matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid while also referencing LA's notorious traffic.
The first game between the teams was a historic 4-3 comeback win for Galaxy as LAFC became just the second MLS team ever to blow a 3-0 lead. The two other games in 2018 were draws, 2-2 at LAFC and 1-1 on the road.
The Galaxy won the first meeting in 2019 with a 3-2 home win before a 3-3 draw in LAFC's home game. The first-ever LAFC victory came in the 2019 MLS Cup play-offs with a 5-3 win, and they also won 6-2 in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando on July 18, 2020. Galaxy won twice in the 2020 regular season with 2-0 and 3-0 wins before LAFC won the final match-up of the year 2-0.
Vela has the most goals in El Trafico matches with 10, while Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored nine times in the fixture in his two seasons with the club.
With meetings in the 2019 and 2020 MLS Cup play-offs and the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament round of 16, LAFC are also building a competitive rivalry with fellow West Coast side Seattle Sounders.
LAFC's top players
Carlos Vela has scored the most goals in the team's first three seasons with 62 in total, 52 in MLS play. Diego Rossi has netted 51 times, 42 in MLS games, while Adama Diomande left the club having scored 24 goals in total.
Tyler Miller had kept 20 clean sheets before being traded. He appeared in 68 games.
Latif Blessing has the most LAFC appearances with 100 while Rossi has played in 99 games and Eduard Atuesta 84. Walker Zimmerman, Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen and Christian Ramirez are among the USMNT players who have played for LAFC.
Brian Rodriguez attracted the highest transfer fee when LAFC spent $11.7million to buy him from Penarol in 2019. They paid Benfica $7million in 2018 for Andre Horta and bought Vela from Real Sociedad for $6.1million in 2017. Rossi also came from Penarol for $3.9million in 2017 and the largest deal with another MLS club, Minnesota United, was $1million for Christian Ramirez in 2018.
LAFC sold Horta to Braga for $2.75million, their largest transfer fee received. They got $1.25million from Nashville SC for Zimmerman in 2020 as their largest in-league deal.