LAFC's 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more

Comments()
Major League Soccer's newest team is still building its roster, but already boasts enough firepower to hit the ground running

It hasn't been an easy ride for expansion teams in Major League Soccer. Far more have fallen short of the modest goal of reaching the playoffs in year one than have reached that milestone, and the best results have come from teams that spent big right away in order to avoid the early lumps of being the new team on the block.

You can put Los Angeles FC in the category of big-spending newcomers, having already put together a formidable starting lineup heading into its inaugural MLS campaign. From Mexican star Carlos Vela to Uruguayan youngster Diego Rossi, down to MLS stars like Benny Feilhaber, Walker Zimmerman and Laurent Ciman, LAFC has put together a strong core that will ensure a competitive first season.

Then you have Bob Bradley, the man who holds the distinction of being the only coach to guide an expansion team to an MLS Cup title. It is fitting that he embarks on another expansion project exactly 20 years after leading the fledgling Chicago Fire to an MLS Cup triumph.

It is a much different league than it was 20 years ago though, and a different league than Bradley left behind in 2007 to take over the U.S. national team. That said, Bradley is still a formidable coach who should get the most out of a squad that could make some serious noise in its first season.


LAFC's key additions


Carlos Vela Real Sociedad

Mexican star Carlos Vela is the kind of dynamic attacking force who should thrive in MLS. Whether deployed as a striker, or as an attacking midfielder, Vela has the vision, finishing ability and explosiveness to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.

Diego Rossi will serve as Vela's attacking foil, working the left wing, where his speed should open things up for the rest of his teammates.

Egyptian national team standout Omar Gaber is a versatile player who can slot in as a winger, right back or defensive midfielder. That ability to play all over the field should serve Bob Bradley well as he builds his roster.

Veteran MLS midfielder Benny Feilhaber is reunited with Bradley after playing for him as U.S. national team coach. Known more as a playmaker during his MLS career, Feilhaber is more likely to adopt a box-to-box role, which should make the most of the two-way ability Feilhaber honed playing for Sporting KC.

Having solid center backs is key to success in any league, and LAFC hit the jackpot by landing Laurent Ciman and Walker Zimmerman in a pair of big trades that give the first-year team one of the most formidable central defensive tandems in MLS.


Full LAFC roster entering 2018 season


Benny Feilhaber MLS Sporting KC 03112017

Goalkeepers: Luis Lopez, Tyler Miller

Defenders: Steven Beitashour, Tristan Blackmon, Laurent Ciman, Jordan Harvey, Dejan Jakovic, Joao Moutinho, Walker Zimmerman

Midfielders: Eduard Atuesta, Benny Feilhaber, Omar Gaber, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Aaron Kovar, Calum Mallace

Forwards: Latif Blessing, Rodrigo Pacheco, Diego Rossi, Marco Urena, Carlos Vela


LAFC's projected starting lineup


GFX 2018 LAFC Projected XI 02272018

There aren't many full-blown position battles just yet considering the LAFC roster is still being filled out, but there are certain parts of the field where there are some good options.

LAFC officially added Colombian midfielder Atuesta on loan on Tuesday, a move that helps give LAFC some bite in the defensive midfield role.

Argentine forward Pacheco and former Sporting KC speedster Blessing give Bradley some attacking options off the bench, though more depth is needed there. Kaye can play on the wing or in central midfield and should find some minutes as well.

Article continues below

Veteran defender Harvey and rookie Moutinho should battle it out for the left back position, with Moutinho having enjoyed a strong preseason.

Canadian central defender and former D.C. United standout Jakovic is back in MLS and should give LAFC a good third option in central defense.


LAFC's national TV coverage


Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC - Sunday, March 4, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN
Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles FC - Saturday, March 10, at 5:30 p.m. ET on Univision
LA Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC - Saturday, March 31, at 3 p.m. ET on FOX
Atlanta United vs. Los Angeles FC - Saturday, April 7, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN
Los Angeles FC vs. Seattle Sounders - Sunday, April 29, at 9 p.m. ET on FS1
Los Angeles FC vs. FC Dallas - Saturday, May 5, at 4 p.m. ET on Univision
Los Angeles FC vs. New York City FC - Sunday, May 13, at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1
Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles FC - Saturday, May 19, at 3 p.m. ET on FOX
Los Angeles FC vs. D.C. United - Tuesday, May 29, at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Los Angeles FC vs. Orlando City - Saturday, July 7, at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX
Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers - Sunday, July 15, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN
Los Angeles FC vs. LA Galaxy - Thursday, July 26, at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles FC - Sunday, August 5, at 6 p.m. ET on FS1
LA Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC - Friday, August 24, at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Los Angeles FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes - Saturday, September 22, at 3:30 p.m. ET on Univision
Chicago Fire vs. Los Angeles FC - Saturday, September 29, 3:30 p.m. ET on Univision

Next article:
Guardiola: Versatility the key for Stones
Next article:
Hart a Man City legend, says Kompany
Next article:
Hodgson hails Zaha-Townsend strike partnership despite Everton loss
Next article:
Rooney double helps D.C. United complete climb into playoffs
Next article:
Icardi delight after Donnarumma error gives him another derby winner for Inter
Close