The days of expansion teams automatically finishing last in their first seasons appear to be a thing of the past.
The Vegas Golden Knights took the NHL by storm this season, winning the Pacific Division title and sweeping the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the playoffs.
And Los Angeles FC is off to a strong start in its first MLS campaign, opening 5-2-0 despite playing its first six games on the road before Banc of California Stadium opened last weekend.
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LAFC will play host to FC Dallas (3-1-3) on Saturday afternoon.
Los Angeles won its first home game 1-0 against Seattle on captain Laurent Ciman’s free kick in second-half stoppage time, thrilling the sellout crowd of 22,000 at the new $350 million stadium.
“What a stadium and what a crowd,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a lot of amazing places around the world, but the feeling inside that stadium was incredible.”
All wasn’t perfect, as forward Marco Urena suffered an injury that required facial surgery and will sideline him for at least a month. LAFC quickly moved for replacements, trading with the New England Revolution for midfielder Lee Nguyen and also signing forward Adama Diomande from Hull City in England.
“These are both very, very high-quality players that we think will be great contributors short, medium and long term for LAFC,” general manager John Thorrington said.
LAFC is fourth in MLS with 17 goals scored, with Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi combining for nine goals and seven assists.
FC Dallas is coming off its first loss of the season, a 3-1 decision against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. Dallas, the best defensive team in the league, had allowed only three goals in its first six matches before that total was doubled last weekend.
“Goals are goals,” FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. “We had been defending well.”
Defender Reto Ziegler said, “To say the truth, last game in New York we were not on our level. … Our confidence is still up, but we have to show another mentality against LA.”
This will be the first meeting between LAFC and FC Dallas.
“First (we have to) make sure that our character and our energy is there,” Pareja said. “The discipline that this team has shown, especially in the last games that we have been away we were playing with a lot of energy, so the boys are doing a good job in that part and not being very unstable in our feelings and emotions.
“We’ve got to just stay steady knowing that it’s a long league and it’s a long journey here.”