Thu, Sep 17, 2015 - Page 18 News List

MLS expansion team officially named LAFC


Major League Soccer’s expansion club in Los Angeles finally has an official name: Los Angeles Football Club, or LAFC.

LAFC has been the informal name of the team since its owners were admitted to the league nearly a year ago. The club finally made it official on Tuesday on Twitter, saying its “supporters have spoken.”

“The name that we chose is true to Los Angeles, authentic to world football and speaks to our global ambitions,” said Henry Nguyen, the club’s owner and managing partner.

LAFC is owned by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, American venture capitalist Nguyen and a celebrity-studded list of investors, including Magic Johnson, Peter Guber, Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra.

LAFC is to join the MLS in 2018. The well-funded club intends to carve a niche in Los Angeles’ crowded sports scene while sparking an immediate rivalry with the LA Galaxy, who won their record fifth MLS Cup title last season.

The new club still has not chosen its official colors, although its initial publicity materials have been red and black. LAFC is launching a social media campaign to allow its fans to play a role in the selection, which should happen in the next few months.

Although the club’s debut has been pushed back one year since its inception, the LAFC ownership group has the cash and the ambition to make a splash in Los Angeles.

The group has already revealed plans for a 22,000-seat, soccer-specific, privately funded stadium on the site of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, which is to be demolished.

MLS has just one team in North America’s second-largest market this year after Chivas USA ceased operations following last season.

Even with two-and-a-half years to go before its debut, LAFC is positioning itself as the main rival to the Galaxy. The original MLS club are the only five-time champions in the league’s history, and its list of former or current star players includes David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos.

The free-spending Galaxy, whose stadium is south of downtown Los Angeles in suburban Carson, formally removed “Los Angeles” from their official name a few years ago, shortening it to the city’s familiar initials.

However, LAFC intends to market itself to millennial fans in soccer-loving Los Angeles, particularly in its up-and-coming downtown core, an increasingly popular spot for young professionals and hip urbanites.

The club’s new stadium is to be downtown in Exposition Park, next door to the University of Southern California and the venerable Coliseum, which has hosted two Olympics and the first Super Bowl.

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