(John McCoy/Associated Press)
Welcome to the 29th Season Preview of the 2023 MLS season! We are continuing, and ending this journey with the defending MLS Cup Champions, Los Angeles FC. Steve Cherundolo started his MLS coaching career off with a bang with earning both the Supporters' Shield and a league title. For those of you who are new to MLS Now's work, thanks for reading today and check out all of what our podcast and blog site has to offer. Let's get into it below.
Record: 21-4-9 (67 points/1st in West)
Team Leader Goals: Cristian Arango 16, Carlos Vela 12, Jose Cifuentes/Kwadwo Opoku 7
Team Leader Assists: Carlos Vela 11, Jose Cifuentes/Diego Palacios 7
Manager: Steve Cherundolo (2nd season)
Additions: CB Aaron Long (free from New York Red Bulls/30 years old), LW Stipe Biuk ($6.89 million transfer from HNK Hajduk Split/20 years old), GK Eldin Jakupovic (free from Everton/38 years old), RB Sergi Palencia (free from AS Saint-Etienne/26 years old), CM Timothy Tillman ($530k transfer from SpVgg Greuther Furth/24 years old),
Subtractions: CF Cristian Arango ($5.83 million transfer to Pachuca/27 years old), CF Gareth Bale (retired/33 years old), CAM Latif Blessing ($400k GAM trade to New England Revolution/26 years old), RB Franco Escobar (free to Houston Dynamo/27 years old), CB Sebastien Ibeagha (free to FC Dallas/31 years old), CF Danny Musovski ($250k GAM trade to Real Salt Lake/26 years old)
Designated Players: RW Carlos Vela, LW Denis Bouanga
Projected Starting XI
LAFC became the first team since Toronto FC in 2017 to win both the Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup. The recipe for success in this league was found in this roster as they're designated players, international slots, supplemental spots were all producing at high levels. When you're able to add both Gareth Bale's and Giorgio Chiellini's experience and quality to a Championship level roster midseason, you're setting yourself up for titles. Now to start off this season, they already added Aaron Long to their backline who will fit perfect next to Murillo. They also have an exciting prospect in Croatian international Stipe Biuk as a U22 signing. With these additions, they also had some losses: Bale retired and Cristian Arango received a really good offer to go to Pachuca. Too bad in-league transfers are still through GAM because I bet there would've been many suitors for him in MLS. Where are the goals coming from now? Is Opoku ready for it? LAFC doesn't have a lot of questions about them, but their midfield depth is definitely one. The last question though: time to run it back?
Thanks for viewing our last and twenty-nineth 2023 season preview. If you are a passionate fan looking to write about your club, we are actively seeking contributors for MLS clubs this season. If interested, message us on either Twitter or Instagram @MLSNowPodcast. We want to provide an outlet for fans to discuss their club on the site and also guest star on the podcast throughout the season.