All things considered, it will be tough for the expansion Los Angeles Football Club to top its home opening win over the Seattle Sounders when they host FC Dallas on Saturday afternoon at Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC defeated the Sounders in the 93rd minute on a 35-yard free kick by captain Lauren Ciman that bounced off the hands of goalie Stefan Frei and into the left corner of the net, sending the sellout crowd of 22,000, including part-owners Will Ferrell and Nomar Garciaparra, home happy on Sunday night.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a lot of amazing places around the world,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said afterward. “But the feeling inside the stadium today was incredible. Maybe someone was looking down on us.”
“The football gods were,” Bradley replied.
LAFC (5-2-0, 15 points), off to the best start for an expansion team in MLS history and second only to Sporting Kansas City (5-2-2, 17) in the Western Conference standings with two games in hand, continues their four-game homestand against fourth-place FC Dallas (3-1-3, 12), which comes in off its lone loss of the season, a 3-1 setback at Eastern Conference-leading New York City FC on Sunday night.
FC Dallas has allowed just six goals in seven games, best in the MLS, but three came in last weekend’s loss, including two by 2016 MLS MVP David Villa.
“We’ve just got to stay steady knowing that it’s a long league, it’s a long journey here,” coach Oscar Pareja said. “We’re going to face another 27 games here.”
About the only negative for LAFC in its opening win in the sparkling $350 million Banc of California stadium was an injury suffered to star forward Marco Urena. The Costa Rican international underwent surgery for small facial fractures around his left eye suffered in a collision with Frei and will likely not play again until after the World Cup.
LAFC added two key veteran players before the league’s primary transfer window on Tuesday night in 31-year-old midfielder Lee Nguyen, a 2014 MLS MVP finalist after scoring 18 goals and helping lead the New England Revolution to the MLS Cup final, and 28-year forward Adama Diomande, who played for Bradley at Norwegian club Stabaek and had eight goals in 64 appearances with Hull City of the English Championship League.
Diomande isn’t expected to play with LAFC before Wednesday night’s home game with Minnesota United but Nguyen has taken part in training sessions and could make his debut Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to playing,” Nguyen told MLSsoccer.com. “Who knows how much of a role I’m going to play this weekend? It’s up to the coach. But I’ve been training. I’m ready to go.”
—Field Level Media