As MLS continues to grow, expansion sides are continuing to come into the league and raise the bar with their play on and off the field.
On October 21, the expansion side Los Angeles FC tied the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 in Banc of California Stadium.
Although the result itself will hardly take home any headlines, the draw gave LAFC 57 points for the 2018 season, which now holds the record for most ever points by a club in its inaugural season.
The 57 point total broke the previous record held by 2017 expansion side, Atlanta United, who earned 55 points during their historic first season.
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Not only was Atlanta United one of the more competitive sides on the pitch, off it the Five Stripes set a new standard for attendance by breaking the attendance record on two different occasions in the rocking and raucous Mercedes Benz Stadium in the 2017 season. This is a pattern that LAFC have followed, with the Banc of California Stadium now, like the Mercedes Benz Stadium, renowned as one of the fiercest, most intimidating atmospheres in all of Major League Soccer.
The two recent expansion sides have already begun to establish themselves as forces for years to come in MLS, and they are not the only young clubs who are raising the bar in North America.
Joining Atlanta United in 2017 was Minnesota United who, although haven’t impressed with their play on the field to the same extent as their fellow graduates, have had some success in their first two seasons and will soon welcome the upcoming opening of their new stadium, Allianz Field. It is just another sign of younger clubs improving every aspect of MLS.
Along with the newest teams in MLS, the league can continue to look forward to the next set of expansion teams who are sure to bring in a new level of excitement in the already growing league. The success that those previous expansion clubs makes it more attractive for prospective organisations, thus leading to more expansion bids, meaning that the best ones can then be selected. This is a self-perpetuating cycle of growth and prosperity.
And as the 2019 season looms closer, the newest darling of MLS, FC Cincinnati, looks ahead to join the league while they continue to break attendance records down in USL. They will now rival the mighty rise of Atlanta and LAFC and hope to continue the growth of the league, even in the wake of international humiliation.
American soccer has seen its better days with so many focusing on what is wrong with the sport due to the United States National Team failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But despite the failure on the international level, fans have reason to smile as the newest clubs of MLS are raising the bar both off and on the pitch.