The final grind of the inaugural season is approaching for Los Angeles FC. With only eight games left in the regular season, the fledgling club remains in the third slot of the Western Conference rankings. With 43 points, LAFC sits only three points behind top-ranked FC Dallas, and its sights are set deep into postseason play. But before the team buckles down for the final grind of its first season, let’s take a look at some of the top highlights of its first summer.
1. LAFC holds down fort as stars dazzle in World Cup
The club entered the summer short-handed because Carlos Vela, Omar Gaber and Marco Ureña headed to Russia with their respective national teams.
Gaber and Ureña both saw limited field time as their teams exited the tournament after the group stage, but Vela stood out as a bright light for the Mexican national team during its thrilling run to the Round of 16.
Vela scored one goal for El Tri against South Korea, and his off-the-ball presence and ability to spread the field was crucial in the team’s shocking victory over Germany.
— LAFC (@LAFC) June 27, 2018
Back home, the club went on a five-game winning streak despite the absence of some of its best players. The team went 5-1 in the month of June to start the summer off right.
2. Houston thwarts first Open Cup bid
After opening the U.S. Open Cup tournament with a resounding 2-0 victory over Fresno, LAFC soldiered through a pair of 3-2 wins over Sacramento and Portland to cement a place in the semifinals. The team faced off against Houston, falling behind 3-1 until the 78th minute, when Diego Rossi exploded on the scene to notch a hat trick with a pair of last-minute goals.
His final score, netted in the fifth and final minute of extra time, sent the pair of teams into a thrilling penalty shootout. The Dynamo edged the home team, but the nail-biting loss continued to fuel the team’s drive to clinch the MLS Cup championship later this season.
3. Two more matchups add fuel to crosstown rivalry
The opening game of El Tráfico — which resulted in the iconic arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who pulled the Galaxy back to a win from a 3-1 deficit — cemented this crosstown rivalry as one of the fiercest in the league. After rematching twice this summer, LAFC managed to defend its home field but is still chasing an elusive victory.
The teams fought to a 2-2 draw in July and again to a 1-1 finish in August. The July match was a disastrous repetition of the teams’ first meeting, with LAFC pulling ahead early only to cede two goals in the final 10 minutes to allow a draw. The Galaxy got the early edge in the final meeting of the season, but Vela netted a goal in the 50th minute and both teams ground to a second consecutive draw.
4. New additions provide depth
The early roster bolstering of Lee Nguyen proved to be successful for LAFC, but the most impactful addition for the team was Adama Diomande. Since his signing May 1, Diomande has added nine goals for the club. This goal count was sparked by his explosive start in the league, notching seven goals in his first four games of MLS play.
Diomande trails only Vela in total goals for the team, and his aggressive creativity on offense gave a much-needed boost. His performance earned a distinction as MLS Player of the Month, and it invigorated LAFC fans as Diomande quickly became a foil to Vela’s skillful distribution.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 5, 2018
5. Club continues to win celebrity hearts
LAFC’s celebrity co-owners and fans are well documented, and the club continued drawing high-profile eyes during the summer. Actors such as Danny Trejo and Ty Burrell joined the black and gold ranks:
.@officialDannyT is Black & Gold.
— LAFC (@LAFC) July 15, 2018
Ty Burrell was a natural last night 😄
Thanks for being our Honorary Falconer! pic.twitter.com/WxE1uiT968
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 23, 2018
And famed fighters Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Álvarez paid the team a visit for the Galaxy game:
— LAFC (@LAFC) August 27, 2018
— LAFC (@LAFC) August 27, 2018