LAFC is atop the Western Conference and the entire league of the MLS.
With 33 standings points and a +15 goal differential led by the recently extended Carlos Vela (6 Goals, 4 Assists) LAFC is in a great spot as the favorite. The signing of Gareth Bale puts this squad at the top not only in terms of numbers but of projections and in the front of MLS fans’ minds. Who stands in their way? What does this mean for the future of the US’s premier soccer league?
Top Tier Teams in the MLS
LAFC is the only MLS club with at least 30 points in the table. There’s only a handful of squads that are near them. Teams like Philadelphia Union and Real Salt Lake have had many close competitions this season and getting lots of points off of draws.
Even though Philly has a goal difference of +10 they have 8 draws. That amount of draws compared to their 7 wins is an interesting total at the top of the Eastern table. They survive and advance by their defensive effort, giving up only 12 goals in 16 matches (best in MLS). They pick up wins when it matters though besting NYCFC 2-1 on June 25th, which is what separates Union and New York in the East.
Real Salt Lake and Austin FC seem to be the most formidable foes for LAFC. Although Dallas and Nashville are jockeying for positions as well. It’s just hard to see anyone else in the West be able to match LA’s ability to be so dynamic. Real Salt Lake doesn’t score in bunches and gives up very little for a +1 goal differential. Austin, led by Sebastian Driussi (9 Goals, 3 Assists), is 2nd as a team in scoring (31). That mark is second to LAFC with 32 goals netted so far this season.
With the signing of Bale LAFC adds more firepower to a starting XI that is already at the top of the league table. The MLS is not new to this rodeo, experience with past-their-prime players has indicated this will most likely pay dividends for LA.
The International Star’s Last Stop
The MLS has been aging out of its reputation as a “Retirement League” in recent years. The names that come to mind are those of Thierry Henry, David Beckham, and more. Henry and Beckham are examples of guys who were successful as players at the end of their careers and have kept themselves in the game after retirement.
It’s hard to make any declarations about Bale doing the same, but it brings international attention to LAFC as Henry and Beckham did for Red Bulls and Galaxy. Bale’s contract is for 12 months, a low-risk – high-reward deal for both sides.
Winning a title in any league, or any sport is not an easy task, but LAFC is certainly trying to make it as easy as possible. LA gets the Welsh star while in solid form playing internationally and in poor form when with Madrid recently. This should bring some new juice to Bale’s play and LAFC’s confidence as a whole. The red carpet for an MLS championship is rolled out for them, they just have to walk the path to the winner’s stage.