The start to LAFC’s Supporters’ Shield defense will begin at home.
On Thursday, LAFC announced its home opener against MLS newcomers Inter Miami CF on March 1. It is the second year in a row LAFC will begin a season at home.
It feels like a blur after the historic 2019, but it was just two years ago that LAFC started has become a trend of late magic in home openers. In 2018, it was a stoppage-time free-kick from former captain Laurent Ciman that opened the doors of Banc of California Stadium in style. Last year, the Black & Gold defeated Sporting KC with a last-gasp Adama Diomande winner to begin 2019.
Just a few days ago, Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas was recorded telling his team’s supporters, “Everybody talks about LAFC and the 3252 but the 305 here, you gotta make it rock.” Now they’ll get their chance to see what everybody’s talking about up close and personal. And maybe there will be some more home opener magic waiting for them.
Although it’s been less than 24 hours since the announcement and Inter Miami has yet to fill out their roster, let alone hire a coach, it’s never too early to get excited for the start of another MLS season.
Here’s a ridiculously too early preview of LAFC vs. Inter Miami:
Defend The Banc
Sure, the sample size is small. But LAFC has enjoyed home openers in the past.
In two seasons, LAFC is perfect in both its home openers. Last season’s home opener set the tone for the Black & Gold. After the 2-1 win over Sporting KC, LAFC went to win a league-high 13 matches at home. Bob Bradley’s team amassed a substantial 42 of its record-setting 72 points at Banc of California Stadium last season.
The Club’s inaugural season followed a similar trend. LAFC lost just once at home in its first season, repeating that feat in 2019. Over two seasons, LAFC has lost just twice at home during the MLS regular season. In fact, over the last two seasons, LAFC is tied with Atlanta United for the second-most points earned at home with 76 – New York City FC leads the way with 78 points.
Lining Up On The Pitch
Tactics, tactics, tactics! How is this game going to play out? Well, I’m not totally sure at this point.
LAFC returns much of its core from 2019’s record-breaking season. Carlos Vela will be back to defend his goalscoring title. Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura will push the Black & Gold high up the field. Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, and Latif Blessing will control the center of the pitch and dictate the match’s tempo. But we’re still waiting on some of the pieces to fall into place for Inter Miami.
For starters, they have yet to hire a head coach. The rumors have been swirling that we’ll know who is leading them very soon. But in the meantime, we’ve been told by co-owner David Beckham that his team will be attack-minded, exciting, and proactive aka how you’ve come to expect MLS expansion teams to describe themselves before kicking off their inaugural season. Although to be fair to Inter Miami, they’ve backed up a lot of that talk with their player acquisitions to date.
Miami unveiled young Argentines Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranza as the first two signings in club history. Both players are just 19. Both are attacking players – Pellegrini a playmaker/winger and Carranza a striker. And both have set the tone for their side’s roster build.
Since then, Inter Miami has added midfielder Christian Makoun, another 19-year-old, once on the books at Italian giants Juventus. They brought in youth US international midfielder George Acosta – also 19. And added former LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen via the Expansion Draft.
So, Miami looks to be a team that will want the ball and wants to use it in interesting ways. What we don’t know as of yet is how they are going to fill out the defense – there aren’t too many center backs on the current roster – or how they’ll fill the remaining two Designated Player slots – Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough has hinted at both slots being filled before the season (hello, Edinson Cavani?).
That’s two major question marks ahead of the home opener. But having experienced this firsthand in LAFC’s inaugural, it’s likely much of the team’s framework is already in place even if the announcements will come seemingly at the wire.