LAFC announced its crest and colors yesterday in a carefully scripted press conference that also included two new owners in actor Will Ferrell and video game mogul Brandon Beck. It was quite the affair: There were streamers, chants and a Lakers drum.
Next, there will a stadium, an academy and eventually a team for LAFC. U.S. Soccer great and LAFC co-owner Mia Hamm hopes the club will also bring a women’s team to Los Angeles.
“I know it’s a business, but if there’s any place in the country that has a fan base and support, it’ll be here in L.A., in Southern California,” Hamm said Thursday after the press conference.
While the establishment of a women’s team is not a main priority for LAFC currently, Hamm said it remains in the discussions. The team is focusing on building its academy system under John Thorrington, the executive vice president of soccer operations, building its stadium and arranging its roster for the inaugural 2018 season, Hamm said.
The World Cup champion expressed interest in bringing a women’s team to Los Angeles from when she was first announced as a part-owner of LAFC in 2014. The current top-tier women’s professional league, the National Women’s Soccer League, has 10 teams and will start its fourth season in 2016.
The NWSL has already outlived its predecessor, the Women’s Professional League, which was the top level for women’s soccer before it folded after three years before the 2012 season.
Thorrington moving forward with LAFC academy
When he was introduced as LAFC’s first hire on the technical side last month, Thorrington said his first focus was on building and strengthening an academy system for the expansion side. The 36-year-old told reporters Thursday that the team’s academy plans are well underway as it already met with U.S. Soccer to receive its academy designation. He’s also in the process of hiring an academy director, with some — but not all — talks already in the works with potential candidates.
Thorrington said he was open to starting a USL team and that a USL team could feasibly come before 2018 MLS team. But he noted that the club will only make that decision “when we’re confident we can do it right.”
Rivalry brewing in Los Angeles
LAFC won’t play a game until 2018, but the rivalry between the new club and the L.A. Galaxy is already lit. Just ask Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza who took to Twitter to throw shade at LAFC and its supporters, Black Army 1850.
Big day for Chivas USA fans…
— AJ DeLaGarza (@AJD_20) January 7, 2016
When LAFC announced its official name in September, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena quipped that he wished the new club luck “except when they compete against the Galaxy, which is 365 days a year.”
Competition for supporters and attention will be fierce in the ultra-saturated sports market, but LAFC is embracing the challenge.
“For us, it’s gonna get fun; its gonna get a little punchy,” said Henry Nguyen, LAFC co-owner and managing partner. “But in all frankness, they are champions. They are the incumbents. We’re the challenger here and we’re going to have the fieriness of the challenger.”