To be considered a big club, there are certain prerequisites.
Loyal supporters. Iconic stadium. Great players. A connection to your city. A certain style of play.
From the start, LAFC has checked box after box after box.
In Los Angeles, a city of enclaves seemingly only connected by a sprawling mass of freeways, a community grew in Black & Gold. And from it, a Club was molded. A Club built from the ground up by the people of the city and for the city, yearning for something that reflected them.
Amid the shadows of downtown high rises, in a city that hadn’t built an open-air stadium in 50 years, a cathedral of football arose in the heart of the city. And on the pitch, a team as diverse as the faces in the stands, uniting the world’s city through the world’s game, played an exciting brand of football.
And they didn’t just entertain. In a city of winners, LAFC won... and won a lot.
Since kicking its first ball in MLS, LAFC set new marks for what an expansion team in MLS could be, both on and off the pitch. The Black & Gold entered league play with a historic start. The Club had five players selected to provisional rosters for that summer’s World Cup – most in MLS. An Open Cup semifinal was reached. By season’s end, a playoff spot was secured and a new mark for most points in an expansion season was set with 57.
Returning 16 players from the inaugural season, LAFC picked up where it left off in Year Two.
More records fell - quickest MLS team to 100 points, most combined goals and assists by one player, quickest to clinch a playoff spot, and a new record for goal differential over the course of a season. And still more may follow.
LAFC sat atop the MLS table from Week 4 of the season and never looked back. Behind the most goals scored and fewest conceded this season, the Black & Gold ran away with the top spot in the Western Conference, securing its first taste of international football in 2020. And Carlos Vela pretty much ran away with this season’s MVP.
But one box remained unchecked.
Big clubs win trophies.
On Wednesday, LAFC and its Supporters lifted the first trophy in Club history. The Supporters’ Shield is Black & Gold.
Conceived at the first Supporters’ Summit in 1998, the Supporters’ Shield was officially established in 1999. Awarded to the supporters of the MLS team with the most points at season’s end, the Shield is the trophy given to the best MLS team over the course of a seven-month season.
Prior to 2019, only 12 clubs in MLS had won the Supporters’ Shield. LAFC becomes the 13th and the first to claim a stake to the best team of the MLS regular season in just a year after an expansion season.
During the inaugural season, Bob Bradley once quipped “we don’t even have a trophy case” when asked if his team had accomplished what they set out to do in its first season. Like many jokes Bradley makes in the media, there was a hint of truth to what he said.
LAFC better get that trophy case ready now. And if all goes to plan during the playoffs, better make room in it for at least two.