Team Profile: Los Angeles Football Club
Updated: Feb 11
Year founded: 2014.
First season in MLS: 2018.
Stadium: BMO Stadium, Los Angeles, CA.
Honors: MLS Cup (2022), Supporters' Shield (2019, 2022).
2023 highlights: the defending champions open at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena on February 25th against LA Galaxy. This will be the first MLS game at this iconic venue since the Galaxy defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-0 in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals on October 5th, 2002. The two LA teams meet a further two times in the regular season, at Dignity Health Sports Park on April 16th and BMO Stadium on September 16th. LAFC will have a huge target on their backs this year, and they will surely be tested in the early weeks, with home games in March against Portland Timbers, New England Revolution, and FC Dallas. Their other game in March takes them to Lumen Field for a meeting with Seattle Sounders. LAFC do not play more than two away games in a row at any point during the season, but they do have four home games on the trot across May and early June. They end with back-to-back games on the road, at Austin FC and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Head Coach: Steve Cherundolo.
Players to watch: Carlos Vela, Aaron Long, Denis Bouanga, Stipe Biuk.
Stipe Biuk (transfer from Hajduk Split) Daniel Crisostomo (signing) Ryan Hollingshead (re-signed) Eldin Jakupovic (transfer from Everton) Aaron Long (free agent) Denil Maldonado (loan from Motagua) Sergi Palencia (free)
Abraham Romero (signing)
Timothy Tillman (signed from Greuther Fürth)
Cristian Arango (transfer to Pachuca)
Gareth Bale (retired) Latif Blessing (trade to New England) Franco Escobar (contract expired) Sebastien Ibeagha (contract expired) Cal Jennings (option declined) Sebastian Mendez (contract expired) Tomás Romero (option declined) Eddie Segura (contract expired) Cristian Tello (option declined) Danny Trejo (option declined)
2022 summary: a double-winning season for LAFC, who claimed their first MLS Cup with victory over Philadelphia Union, after winning a second Supporters' Shield. Only seven times previously had the same team won both, and not since Toronto FC in 2017. Three crafty signings ahead of the season, in MLS veterans Kellyn Acosta, Ryan Hollingshead, and Ilie Sanchez set the tone, and when top of the standings in the summer they strengthened still further with the arrival of Gareth Bale, Giorgio Chiellini, and Denis Bouanga. Their 21 wins matched the total enjoyed in 2019, when they also lifted the Supporters' Shield. LAFC lost five of their final nine regular season games, but the hard work had already been done, as they stormed to an 18-4-3 record in the opening 25 games, including seven wins in a row during July and August. In Steve Cherundolo's first season in charge, he took a giant in MLS which had missed the playoffs in 2021 and guided them to the biggest prize in MLS. With home advantage in the playoffs, they defeated LA Galaxy, Austin FC, and then came from behind to dramatically defeat Philadelphia Union on penalties to win MLS Cup.
Facts and Stats: LAFC finished with 67 points last season, the same as Philadelphia Union, but were awarded the Supporters' Shield as they managed more wins than the Eastern Conference club. LAFC had two players score double digit goals. Cristian Arango led the way with 16 goals, followed by Carlos Vela (12). Vela also had a team-high 12 assists. LAFC scored 66 goals, 13 more than they managed when missing the playoffs a year earlier, but some way short of the 85 they rattled in during their Supporters' Shield-winning 2019 season.
Milestones in 2023: they will start their sixth season needing one win to reach 80 victories in the regular season. Game two of the season, against Portland Timbers on March 4th, will be an 80th home game for LAFC. Kellyn Acosta will be playing in his 11th season and is six away from 200 starts in MLS. Carlos Vela has 69 goals and 47 assists, so he is closing in on the 50-50 Club (at least 50 goals and 50 assists).