The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) kickoff the 2020 MLS season on Sunday against Inter Miami who kicks off their inaugural season.
LAFC come off their record-breaking 2019 regular season where they won the Supporters Shield with a record 72 points setting the league on fire with their goal scoring.
The leader of the team was undoubtedly League MVP Carlos Vela who set a record for goals scored in a season with 34. Despite all the record-setting, the team again was disappointed in the playoffs losing the Western Conference Final to the Seattle Sounders in front of their home supporters.
LAFC has to turn the page on that disappointment and will likely be a favorite going into this season but a few questions remain.
What will the defense look like?
The LAFC backline will look drastically different this season with the departure of veteran Steven Beitashour and centerback Walker Zimmerman.
Beitashour was to be expected with Tristan Blackmon able to step in but the loss of Zimmerman was a stunning one. Zimmerman was sent to expansion club Nashville FC for a purported 1.25 million dollars in allocation money. That is a large sum that LAFC could not refuse.
With Zimmerman gone filling that hole in the middle of the backline will be significant to the success of the defense.
Can Vela repeat his 2019 MVP season?
34 goals in 31 league games may never be repeated again but if there is a player who can repeat such a performance perhaps it is Carlos Vela. LAFC won’t be changing their philosophy on playing soccer, they want to attack, attack, and then attack some more.
With Vela as the leader of the attack, there is a good chance he can match his 30-goal season. Even if he doesn’t get to 30 again, LAFC will go as far as their captain takes them.
After their playoff loss last season Vela showed his leadership by dismissing any individual honors he may have gained saying the ultimate goal was the team winning trophies. In his short MLS career Vela has missed out on ultimate glory not even playing in an MLS Cup, this season look for him to push the team to get over the finish line and lift the cup.
New Guy in Net
LAFC surprised many by breaking ties with goalkeeper Tyler Miller, trading him to Minnesota United for allocation money. Miller had been the number one keeper since the team’s first season leaving a big hole in the position.
LAFC went out and signed 34 year-old Dutch goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer from Feyenoord of the Dutch first division. Vermeer had made 100 appearances for both Feyenoord and Dutch giant Ajax in his career.
Returning for LAFC will be backup Pablo Sisniega who made nine appearances last season overall for the team. At 24 years old Sisniega has youth over Vermeer, but expect Vermeer’s experience to make him number one.
LAFC can do no better than their record setting 2019 unless they finally lift the MLS Cup. If they stay healthy and focused, then come November it may be black and gold confetti falling at Banc of California Stadium.