Can LAFC put it together to win it all?
With LAFC about to start their fourth campaign in MLS, there is only one goal in mind. To finish the season hoisting the MLS Cup high into the air. Anything short of that will be a failure.
Last season was pretty disappointing for the Black & Gold. Seventh place in the Western Conference and got dumped out in the first round of the playoffs to Seattle. Again. While last season was weird (in many different ways), LAFC was hampered by Carlos Vela being out most of the season. While players like Diego Rossi and Eduard Atuesta took the lead in trying to get the team performing as high as possible, they simply could not replace the MVP of the league.
While the MLS season was a bummer, there were moments in which you could see how high this team could go. More specifically in the CONCACAF Champions League. To almost go on and win the final would have been not only the greatest night in team history, but potentially in the league history. And what’s exciting is that the team that was fielded for the Champions League bubble in Orlando is the one that’s going to be on the field this season.
Or, a majority of it at least.
Brian Rodriguez left for Spain but is still taking a DP slot. All signs are pointing that he is going to permanently bought out and will make LAFC a fair amount of money (like $20 million amount of money). Rossi and Atuesta are still on the squad, but likely will be gone during the summer transfer window. It’s surprising that both are still on the squad now, but after a very quiet winter transfer window, especially in Europe, it seems that this summer we could see some huge signings and multiple of them.
On the flip side, LAFC did acquire some players, most notable Kim Moon-hwan from South Korea. Moon will likely be the starting right back, which will be an upgrade from last season. If LAFC is going to have any shot at winning the title this year, they have to stop conceding two or three goals a game. While the offense of LAFC is high-powered, they can’t be expected to keep on bailing out the team.
LAFC also picked up Corey Baird (from Real Salt Lake) and Marco Farfan (from Portland). Both will be good rotation players when the team is missing key members. Other than that, LAFC has been pretty quiet.
But with the potential of Rodriguez, Rossi, and Atuesta leaving this year, LAFC will likely have a busy summer window as well. With an open DP slot opening with the loss of Rodriguez and a large flux of cash on hand, the Black & Gold could make a huge signing to get them through the rest of the season.
Likely the biggest announcement of the offseason was the partnership between LAFC and Las Vegas Lights in the USL Championship. It’s the first partnership that LAFC has had since they were with the Orange County FC during its Inaugural Year, but players didn’t go back and forth between the clubs. The structure of the Lights training with the LAFC players in LA make it seem that the route between LA and Vegas pretty wide open.
In the end, the 2021 season is going to be a grid. With an unbalanced schedule, playing almost only Western Conference teams, a US Open Cup that may or may not be played, and a full season of games packed into a shorter timeframe, LAFC is going to have to survive and advance. But if Vela doesn’t hoist the trophy in front of the LAFC faithful at the end of the season, it will be a failure and changes will abound. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get there.
MVP - Vela
Golden Boat - Vela
2nd place in Western Conference
Winners of the MLS Cup