Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan (7) vies for the ball with Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) in the first half of an MLS game Sunday at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan (7) vies for the ball with Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) in the first half of an MLS game Sunday at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

LAFC opens new stadium with a dramatic win over the Sounders

The MLS expansion team scores the winning goal in stoppage time

  • By Greg Beacham AP Sports Writer
  • Sunday, April 29, 2018 9:27pm
  • SportsSounders

LOS ANGELES — Laurent Ciman scored on a free kick in the third minute of stoppage time, and Los Angeles FC opened its $350 million Banc of California Stadium with a stunning 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night.

Tyler Miller made three saves to earn the shutout for LAFC, but the Major League Soccer expansion team seemed headed for its first scoreless draw in the first home game in franchise history before its Belgian captain lined up a free kick in the final minute of play.

Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei crouched to make the save after Ciman’s kick cleared the wall, but Frei simply couldn’t hang on. The ball hit the net and electrified the sellout crowd of 22,000.

Those mostly black-and-gold-clad fans serenaded LAFC throughout the first game in its beautiful new home.

With an exciting young lineup watched by an ownership group including Magic Johnson and Will Ferrell, LAFC failed on numerous second-half scoring chances before it managed to christen its sparkling arena with a memorable victory. After the game, the players gathered in front of the North End supporters’ section, singing and dancing while black-and-gold smoke poured out of the joyous stands.

Even before Ciman’s theatrics, the evening was a celebration of the latest milestone in the 3 1/2-year journey of LAFC , which gained MLS admission as an expansion franchise in late 2014 and steadily built a club with global ambitions.

A diverse ownership group including Asian billionaires and American entertainers and sports celebrities built a privately funded stadium and a suburban training facility while putting together a roster with plans for immediate trophy contention.

LAFC built Banc of California Stadium on the site of the demolished Los Angeles Sports Arena just south of downtown, seeking to form a bond with the urban heart of the U.S.’ second-largest city. The stadium has been widely praised for its size, shape and attention to detail, and it was filled with fans already eager to support a local team other than the suburban LA Galaxy, the five-time MLS champions.

Although LAFC is less than two months into its debut season, the club already has grabbed its city’s attention in remarkable fashion. While many fans of the defunct Chivas USA switched their allegiance to LAFC, many more fans have taken up the club as a symbol of LA’s downtown rebirth — and a stadium that feels like a big party helps, too.

Several hours before kickoff, thousands of fans gathered in Exposition Park outside the stadium and next-door to the venerable Coliseum. The stands began to fill two hours before the game, with 3,252 or so black-clad fans filling the North End supporters’ section, which has standing rails and its own concourse bar.

During pregame festivities that included skydivers and an enormous tifo, Ferrell took the field with a falcon that will fly around the stadium before games. Fans including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti crowded into the stands for the opening kickoff, and the fans had to wait until the literal last minute for the payoff.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber attended the opener with a group of dignitaries that included Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, a former MLS executive. Garber praised the LAFC ownership group for adjusting to early changes in its makeup and still delivering a stellar club and stadium.

“It’s everything that we hoped it would be, and I think it’s everything that our league needed,” Garber said. “The water level keeps getting raised. The price of poker is going up a little bit. I’m sure (the expansion club in) Miami will have a great building. In June, (D.C. United’s) Audi Field will open. It’s a brick by brick process. We’re building a sport from the bottom up.”

LAFC also played the first match in franchise history against the Sounders, winning 1-0 in Seattle on March 4 with the franchise’s first goal from Diego Rossi.

Coach Bob Bradley’s new team won four of its first six games while starting the season on the road in impressive style, scoring 17 goals and living up to the owners’ desire for an attacking, exciting style of play.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III celebrates after scoring against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of Sunday’s game in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Grading the Seahawks in their 37-27 win over the Panthers

Seattle turns in a solid all-around performance in front of the 2013 Super Bowl winners.

Arlington’s defense stuffs Ferndale running back Talan Bungard on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Arlington steamrolls Ferndale in 3A Wesco North showdown

The Eagles light up offense in the first half, finish business to earn a 46-14 win.

Lake Stevens High School head football coach Tom Tri hoists his team’s championship trophy during a community parade and celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Man of the Year in Sports: Tom Tri

The Lake Stevens coach guided the Vikings to Snohomish County’s first large classification football state title in more than 30 years.

West Linn’s Ryan Vandenbrink (23) runs with the ball during a football game between Lake Stevens and West Linn at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. West Linn won, 49-30. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Turnovers cost Lake Stevens in loss to Oregon power West Linn

The Vikings’ run of 35 straight home wins in the regular season ends in an interstate showdown of big-school state champions.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles up field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Seahawks set to host Panthers, honor past while focused on present

Seattle will honor the 10-year anniversary of its only Super Bowl championship during Sunday’s game.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Fall prep sports roundup.
Prep roundup for Saturday, Sept. 23

Also, Friday’s non-football prep results.

Most Read