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Los Angeles FC, the club that wants to make the City of Angels dream

Giorgio Chiellini, at the beginning of June, and Gareth Bale, on Saturday, formalized their signing at Los Angeles FC, an MLS club created in 2014 and in operation since 2018. In the City of Angels, the emergence of a new ambitious and innovative franchise alongside the rival Los Angeles Galaxy is the result of a surprising alliance of cosmopolitan investors, like its equally globalized workforce. They want to make LAFC a team “competitive and exciting”. What do you need to know about the club?

An ambitious trio at the genesis of the club

Switch from the production of Taxi Driver and Midnight Express to an MLS franchise is the journey of ambitious businessman Peter Guber. In total, the films he produced have brought in 3 billion dollars and have been nominated 50 times for the Oscars, including five in the “Best Picture” category. A success that he reproduced by buying and straightening out the Golden State Warriors then to the rout in 2010 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. He then wants to expand it to MLS.

The Bostonnais is trying to buy the Los Angeles Galaxy, the city’s historic club. In vain. The man who “conducts all his affairs with the object of making money” seizes another opportunity: the abandoned franchise of the Chivas USA club which will disappear and which the MLS puts up for sale. He intends to take advantage of the aura of Los Angeles: “If playing in Paris has a special flavor, it’s the same for Los Angeles. Milan, Munich, Manchester don’t have what we have. I’ve seen it throughout my career, with movies, TV and music: Los Angeles is a special city that can lead to other careers, other sources of income and other opportunities. »

Peter Guber (right) during the last Golden State Warrios title, which he initiated the recovery. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SPORTS/SPORTS PRESS/Sports Press)

Except that the businessman is not alone on the spot. Tom Penn, a lawyer turned agent for basketball players in the NBA, and Henry Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American businessman, are also interested. Problem, the MLS asks them for a minimum of 100 million dollars in addition to the additional 250 million necessary for the construction of a new stadium. In 2014, the three men met and formed an alliance.

On October 30, 2014, the trio announced the creation of LAFC and introduced the stars behind the investments including Magic Johnson, Brandon Beck, the creator of League of Legends or even Mia Hamm, the most famous footballer in the USA. Although today Peter Guber is one member of the club’s owning group among 22 others, “his mark is on every major decision in the history of our club”, assures Tom Penn, current president of the franchise.

Very quickly, once the club was set up, its identity developed and so did its transfer policy. Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the United States after New York, is cosmopolitan. According to demographic studies, the City of Angels is made up of 48% Hispanics, 26% Caucasians, 14% Asians and 8% African Americans. In 2014, rival Los Angeles Galaxy went on trial “too white” by some residents who do not identify with the club team.

The will of the leaders of the LAFC is therefore to diversify the profiles of its players. It is rather a success. Today, only nine members of the total staff are Americans and 22 are from another country. In addition, the Mexican Carlos Vela is the club’s all-time top scorer (73 goals in 119 matches in all competitions) and the record holder for the number of goals scored in an MLS season. This summer, the LAFC made a turning point in its recruitment policy by signing the two big European stars Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale, following the strategy of the Los Angeles Galaxy who signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2018.

An attacking team adept at 4-3-3

Los Angeles FC are playing mainly in 4-3-3 this season with two high midfielders under the orders of American coach Steve Cherundolo who has already worked as an assistant in Hannover 96 and Stuttgart. The offensive face of his team allows it to be prolific with the best total of goals in its Western Conference on the 15th day (31 goals scored). Defensively, the record posted by the hinge is in the standards of its championship with 17 goals conceded. On the ground, the defense is not fixed with an alternation between Henry, Mbacke, Murillo and Ibeagha.

The arrival of the experienced Giorgio Chiellini would bring stability in defense, especially since LAFC have already played in 3-5-2, a system that the Italian experienced at Juventus Turin. In attack, Gareth Bale will have no difficulty playing on the left wing to complete the attacking trio with Arango, scorer, and Vela, right winger. The two new recruits, who will join the club on July 7 for the transfer window in the USA, could be aligned on July 9 against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the derby nicknamed “El trafico”.

Convincing results since 2018

“The objective is to become one of the best teams in MLS within five years, and respected in the world”, was the ambition of Los Angeles FC President Tom Penn in the early days of the franchise. For his part, Peter Guber explained what his club should aim for in the future: “In Los Angeles, you need a competitive team, not necessarily the best. If you accustom your spectators and your fans to only wins, you will have problems when you no longer win. The idea is to be competitive and exciting! »

Arrived in 2018 in MLS, Los Angeles FC started strong by finishing third in its Western Conference and qualifying for the first round of the play-offs. Eliminated from the start, the players achieve in their second season in MLS the best performance in the short history of the club by winning the Supporter’s Shield, the title which rewards the team which has scored the most points at the end of the season. regular. However, they are eliminated in the conference final, at the gates of the final for the MLS title.

Since then, LAFC has only qualified for the play-offs once, in 2020, having exited in the first round. Failing to be one of the best teams in MLS, Peter Guber’s club remains competitive but it must improve in consistency to find the play-offs. Maybe this season. LAFC leads its conference with 30 points after 15 rounds and two games behind runner-up Real Salt Lake. And his story has only just begun.

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