My first visit to Banc of California Stadium happened before I worked for the Club. The Banc wasn't open yet, either.
Donning an LAFC hard hat, I joined other media members for a short tour. The architect tasked with leading us that day was probably glad to see me go.
I must have asked a hundred questions that day. From what's the roof going to be made from to what type of grass will be on the pitch to questions about broadcast sight lines. They weren't pertinent to my job at the time, I was just blown away by what I was seeing in the middle of Los Angeles.
After I was hired by LAFC, I took the chance to visit the nearly finished stadium site every chance I could. Each week, there was something new - I still remember the day they laid the first bit of sod, that's when it from a building to a stadium for me. Since then, like many of you, I had the privilege of attending every LAFC match in Banc of California Stadium. Regular season, friendlies, Open Cup... you name it, I've been there.
Still, it's hard to believe we're celebrating one year at the Banc. Not because it's gone by so fast - although it has - but because of all we've seen and done inside the doors of the stadium since that first match on April 29, 2018. Between the North End and its traditions that feel generations in the making to the four LAFC victories in the 89th minute or later, there has been a lot of magic in just the first 365 days of the stadium's existence - which made compiling this list so difficult but I gave it a shot.
Here are my Top 5 moments on the pitch in Banc of California Stadium's first year:
5. Return Of The MAK - March 10, 2019
We were all Steven Beitashour in this moment above, running to Mark-Anthony Kaye and refusing to let go.
It had been over six months since we'd seen Kaye on the pitch at Banc of California Stadium. Standing at the back of the press conference room on the night Bob Bradley announced the midfielder would need surgery and likely be out the rest of the 2018 season, everything else seemed to fade away at that moment.
Kaye's rise from the USL to MLS had been one of the best of the myriad of stories that came out of LAFC's inaugural season. When a player is out that long and with such a severe injury, there's always a worry they'll never be the same. But from the first match of 2019, Kaye put those worries to bed. And his goal in the second match of 2019 heralded his return in the best way.
4. A Trio For Dio - June 30, 2018
No Carlos Vela? No Diego Rossi? No problem.
With Vela away at the World Cup and Rossi given a much needed day off, Adama Diomande put MLS on notice.
The striker already had four goals in his first four matches for LAFC. Against Philadelphia, Diomande made history by becoming the first player in Club history to net a hat trick and the first at the Banc.
Three goals on three shots, each of them a different variety of goal. Diomande blasted his way into the MLS record books as the fastest to seven goals in league history.
History made, again.
3. The Rain Game - October 12, 2018
It never rains in LA, right?
Tell that to the soaked fans that continued to sing during a nearly two-hour weather delay against Houston last season.
LAFC went into the delay behind by a goal. When the Black & Gold were finally allowed to return to the pitch, Carlos Vela took over.
Pulling LAFC level with from the spot just before the halftime interval, Vela dismantled the Dynamo as the rain continued to fall in the second half. Two goals and assist amidst the torrential downpour, the captain joked after the match that he should play in the rain more.
For the fans that remained, it was just another magic night at Banc of California Stadium.
2. Opening Match Magic, Part 2 - March 3, 2019
I had the pleasure of being pitchside for the final moments of the opening match of 2019. What is it with LAFC and late goals in home openers?
The explosion of sound that followed Adama Diomande's rocket into the back of Tim Melia's net was unforgettable. It took everything in my power not to run out on the pitch to celebrate with them. Thankfully, I didn't. Instead, I focused my attention on the stands, where not a single person was sitting after the goal.
It was the third time in less than a year LAFC had snatched a victory at Banc of California with a goal coming in the 89th minute or later. The fourth would come just a couple of weeks later. And reminder to never leave Banc of California Stadium early.
1. Ciman Calls Game - April 29, 2018
Back to where it all started.
The first match at Banc of California Stadium was special for so many reasons. But we couldn't open the stadium with a draw.
Our digital team had talked about the first goal at Banc countless times. As the clock ticked into the 90th minute of the 0-0 match, I'd be lying if I said we were prepared for what happened.
A year later, it remains as the top moment in Banc of California Stadium history.