MLS will introduce a 23rd team to its league for the 2018 season, with the addition of Los Angeles FC joining the Western Conference. Popularity for football in California means that LAFC's addition means that Los Angeles will be the first two-team city in Major League Soccer. We have delved into the club and its key players ahead of its maiden season in America's top flight football league. All aboard.
Between the years 2005 and 2014 a team called Chivas USA competed in MLS, and were located in Carson, California (which is part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area). Chivas were a subsidiary team of top-flight Mexican side, C.D. Guadalajara (the naming of Guadalajara is commonly referred to as Chivas or Chiva after the Spanish for a goat, the nickname of the Mexican side), with Chivas operating in similar fashion to how Man City and New York City FC act as sister clubs.
Ultimately, after years of financial struggles (as well as on the pitch), Major League Soccer bought Chivas USA from Jorge Vergara, the owner of the club, and vowed to establish a new team in the city to fill the void of Chivas's departure after the 2014 season.
Who owns LAFC?
Henry Nguyen leads a consortium of 22 investors who own the club, with investors including famous celebrities such as Will Ferrell, Tony Robbins, and Magic Johnson. The ownership group also includes Cardiff City owner, Vincent Tan.
Former NBA executive Tom Penn, and Peter Guber, lead the venture with Nguyen, with Guber acting as the Executive Chairman of the club.
Are LAFC at all tied to Chivas's past in MLS?
No. It's a new team, with a new identity and ownership.
Where will LAFC play their home games?
The Banc of California Stadium is a football-specific stadium that will hold 22,000 thousand fans, and is set to open at the end of April. Due to the construction, LAFC will play their first 6 MLS games away from home.
Who is LAFC's broadcast partner?
All teams in MLS have broadcast partners. Due to the size and scope of America and Canada, all games are nationally aired on ESPN or Fox (America), TSN (Canada), or UniMas or UDN or Univision (Spanish).
All MLS teams are required to have a regional network to air their games, and upon LAFC's debut in MLS they've taken a bold step and struck a partnership with YouTube and its subscription service, YouTube TV.
LAFC's deal with YouTube and Google marks the first time that a major pro sports team has sold their regional broadcast rights to an online streaming service, as opposed to a traditional television broadcaster or regional sports network
YouTube TV will also be the sponsor on LAFC's kit for their inaugural season.
LAFC: The Manager
Name: Bob Bradley
Family: Michael Bradley, current Toronto player and USA captain, is Bradley's son
Former Managerial Positions:
1998–2002: Chicago Fire
2003–2005: MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls)
2006: Chivas USA
2006–2007: United States U23
2006–2011: United States
2015–2016: Le Havre
2016: Swansea City
2018–Current: Los Angeles FC
Bradley's success in Major League Soccer
Way back in the day, Bob Bradley was made the first Manager of Chicago Fire, who made their MLS debut in the 1998 season. Bradley's side went on to win the MLS Cup in their debut season, whilst the Fire also won the U.S. Open Cup in both 1998 and 2000. Bradley will be aiming of a repeat of events from 20 years ago, if LAFC are to win silverware in their first season.
Bradley's time at Swansea City
On October 3, 2016, Bradley was appointed as the new Swansea City manager after Francesco Guidolin was dismissed. With Swansea being owned by an American consortium, the appointment of Bradley was widely criticised, with most back pages believing the appointment was made due to Bradley's nationality. At the time, Bradley had been managing in France with Le Havre, and before at Stabæk in Norway.
Bradley's time at Swansea didn't last long, with the American only lasting 85 days in charge, and has not been in management since, before being announced as LAFC Manager on July 27th 2017.
Bradley's Swansea Stats
- Bob Bradley became the first American to manage in the Premier League
- Bradley was sacked by Swansea after only 85 days and 11 games in charge of the club, the second shortest reign of any manager in the history of the Premier League
- Bradley was dismissed with a record of 2–7–2, conceding 29 goals, the most goals conceded by any Premier League club in the same time period
- Swansea only gained 8 (24.2%) out of a maximum 33 points available for the 11 game period – an average of 0.73 points per game, during Bradley's reign
LAFC: The Players
With the season kicking off in the first weekend of March, and clubs having just returned to their pre-season schedule, the LAFC team isn't quite finalised, but already have 17 registered players to their squad, so there is a solid indication of the direction the team is heading.
Tyler Miller (GK):
Miller has spent the last 3 seasons at Seattle Sounders, and featured 33 times in their USL team, which is essentially an MLS reserve league. In 3 years Miller made 2 appearances for the Sounders' first team.
Luis López (GK):
Lopez is an Honduras international, earning 11 caps for his country. The shot-stopper was part of the 2014 World Cup squad, but Lopez was not used at the tournament in Brazil.
The 24 year-old had spent his entire 4 year career at Honduran first division side, Real España, making 124 appearances for the club before signing with LAFC.
Jordan Harvey (LB):
34 year-old veteran Harvey, a left-back by trade, joins LAFC after completing his 7th season with Vancouver Whitecaps. Harvey played 28 times last season, scoring and assisting once.
Harvey's featured in 270 MLS matches (with 256 of those being starts) for 4 clubs; Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders, Philadelphia Union, and Vancouver. Harvey also has the honour of scoring the 10,000th goal in MLS history.
Steven Beitashour (RB):
Iranian international right-back, Steven Beitashour, joined LAFC from Toronto FC for the 2018 season, having won both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup in 2017.
Beitashour featured in 22 league games for Toronto last season in their domestic double campaign. The 31 year-old full-back started his MLS career at San Jose Earthquakes, winning the Supporters' Shield in 2012, before moving to Vancouver Whitecaps, and then to Toronto for the past 2 campaigns.
Omar Gaber (RB or CDM):
Egyptian international, and utility man, Omar Gaber's journey to LAFC is largely down to his relationship with Bob Bradley, with the American coaching the Pharaoh's between 2011-13.
Gaber's main credentials have come playing for the Egyptian national, playing 18 times for Egypt, appearing in five games in 2018 World Cup Qualifying, and also helping Egypt finish second in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in 2017.
Gaber played for Egyptian side Zamalek 117 times before move to Basel in 2016, where Gaber has only featured 12 times.
Laurent Ciman (CB):
Belgium international centre-back Laurent Ciman was a part of the Red Devil's Euro 2016 squad, with the defender playing in the opening group stage defeat to Italy.
After spending 5 years at Standard Liege, Ciman made the jump to MLS with Montreal Impact in 2015, scoring 2 goals from 85 appearance for the Canadian club.
Ciman was the MLS Defender of the Year in 2015, and made the 'All Star' team in both 2015 and 2016.
Walker Zimmerman (CB):
Central defender Walker Zimmerman became the first LAFC player in the clubs history to be called into the men's national team. Zimmerman earned his second international cap in a 0-0 home draw with Bosnia, and partnered Sporting Kansas City's Ike Opara in the heart of the USA's defence. The 24 year old finished the match with the captain's armband.
Zimmerman joins from FC Dallas and has appeared in 89 regular season matches, with 71 of those appearances from starting births. Over the course of five seasons the defender has scored 7 goals, and assisted 5 times. He was part of the 2016 squad that won the Supporters' Shield as well as the U.S. Open Cup in the same season.
Dejan Jakovic (CB):
The 32 year-old Canadian international centre-back joins LAFC from NASL side New York Cosmos. Jakovic's last prominent spell in MLS was for D.C. United between 2009-13.
Jakovic scored one goal from 111 matches in all competitions for D.C. United, and started in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final victory against Real Salt Lake.
João Moutinho (LB):
Not to be confused with the Portugal international, Moutinho is about to enter his first professional season as a footballer. Predominately a left-back (or occasionally used at centre-back), Moutinho comes from the Akron Zip's a varsity team at the University of Akron, and comes with massive hype.
Moutinho was the first overall pick from the MLS SuperDraft, with LAFC's status as a new team meaning they got their pick of the litter and chose Moutinho as their guy. It will be very interesting to see the minutes he'll get this season.
Aaron Kovar (LM):
24 year-old left midfielder Aaron Kovar is currently only one of two loan signings at LAFC, joining from Seattle Sounders for the 2018 season. Kovar is a homegrown player at Seattle and has appeared 32 times for the Sounders, though he has mostly been used in the USL side. Kovar's move to LAFC is seen as a potential for Kovar to make a statement in America's top flight.
Calum Mallace (CDM):
28 year-old Calum Mallace, who hails from Scotland, has spent his entire professional career in MLS, and first appeared in the 2012 season for Montreal Impact. Mallace remained at the Canadian club until the close of the 2017 season, scoring 1 goal from 80 appearances.
Benny Feilhaber (CM):
Central midfielder Benny Feilhaber is 33 and a veteran to the MLS scene. Feilhaber joined New England Revolution for the 2011 season and has remained in MLS since, scoring 34 goals in the competition for New England (5), with the majority coming for Sporting Kansas City, which saw Feilhaber score 29 goals across 5 seasons of football.
Feilhaber is also a current USA international, and appeared 3 times for the national side in 2017.
Mark-Anthony Kaye (RM):
23 year-old Right midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye is LAFC's latest recruit, and signs from USL side Louisville City, the team that won the USL Championship in 2017. Kaye appeared regularly for Louisville last season and this move to LA is a massive step up and the 2018 season will be the first time he appears in the MLS as a senior player.
Latif Blessing (LM or LW):
21 year-old Ghanaian winger Latif Blessing has been in MLS for just one season, playing his trade for Sporting Kansas City in the 2017 season. Blessing appeared 25 times, scoring 3 times in the regular season. Blessing was the second pick in the MLS Expansion Draft and will seemingly battle Aaron Kovar for a spot on the left of midfield for LAFC.
Marco Ureña (CF or ST):
27 year-old Costa Rica international Marco Urena has appeared 55 times for his international side and found fame at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with the Forward scoring against Italy in Costa Rica's first game of the Group Stage, the group which Urena's side topped ahead of England and Italy.
Urena made the move to MLS for the 2017 season, joining San Jose Earthquakes. Urena scored 5 goals from 25 appearances, and like Latif Blessing, was acquired from the MLS Expansion Draft.
Rodrigo Pacheco (CF or ST):
21 year-old forward Rodrigo Pacheco has joined LAFC on loan from Argentine side, Lanus. The Argentine side only signed Pacheco to a deal in 2017 so the move to MLS is likely to build experience. With Urena and Rossi in LAFC's side, the forward might find his time limited as a back-up option from the bench.
Monday Bassey Etim (ST):
19 year-old Monday Etim was the second signing at LAFC after Carlos Vela's arrival, and has been loaned out to Orange County FC, LAFC's affiliate side in the USL. Etim has scored 2 goals from 16 appearances whilst out on loan.
Carlos Vela (RW):
28 year-old Mexico international Carlos Vela became LAFC's first designated player on August 8th 2017. Vela, who has spent the last 5 years at Real Sociedad, has predominately played as a right-winger and will look to spark a deadly partnership with Diego Rossi, LAFC's other designated player signing. Vela of course started his career at Premier League side Arsenal, but couldn't nail down a regular starting birth in Arsene Wenger's side, and was loaned out until becoming a permanent addition to Sociedad's side.
Vela arrives in Los Angeles at the height of his powers, having scored for Sociedad in his final league appearance for the club on December 20th 2017 in a 3-1 victory over Sevilla. Vela's had half a season of football under his belt so should be match sharp come the first game of the season for LAFC.
Vela has made 319 league appearances throughout his career, scoring 82 goals. In all competitions Vela has scored 97 goals from 382 appearances.
Vela has also appeared for Mexico 63 times, scoring 18 goals, and the move means he will be closer to home for Mexican national games.
Diego Rossi (ST):
The second Designated player to join LAFC's ranks is Uruguay U20 international Diego Rossi. The 19-year old forward joins from Penarol in Uruguay's Primera Division, and is the second youngest Designated Player in MLS history, with 2015 MLS All-Star Fabian Castillo, who signed with FC Dallas in 2011 as an 18-year old, the youngest.
Rossi scored 13 goals for Penarol from 46 appearances and has scored 10 league goals for the club already this season before the move to MLS. Rossi's brought a lot of international attention to LAFC, especially as the MLS has been struggling to compete with Mexican teams in the Champions League, so the transfer is seen as a big coup for the league.
Los Angeles recently played their first pre-season friendly, a 2-2 draw against MLS Cup champions Toronto in LA. Marco Ureña scored both of LA's goals, and largely rotated their team in both halves.
LAFC begin their season away to Seattle Sounders, and will play their first 6 games of the season away from home whilst their home stadium finishes construction. You can check out LA's opening ten fixtures below.
You can read more of our latest news from in the FPL, Premier League, and around the footballing world on our Football page by clicking here, or by clicking the image below.
For more MLS, follow @RealHypeTrain and @HypeTrainMLS on Twitter for the latest social media insight from The Hype Train.
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
As well as providing FPL articles on our website, we are a founding Contributor to the new Fantasy Football Hub, where you can find more unique articles, including weekly Power Rankings, from The Hype Team. You can support us and read exclusive members only content for just £2 per-month by clicking here.
The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.
You can follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, or visit our website here at www.thehypetrain.co.uk