The 2023 Major League Soccer season is well and truly underway, with LAFC as the defending champions, LA Galaxy as the most reputable team from the US, and even the San Jose Earthquakes just for good measure. LAFC are the clear favorites to win the MLS Cup just now when you look at the best soccer betting sites, so could the cup be headed back to Cali this year?
Los Angeles Galaxy
David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Landon Donovan, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are but a few of the deep legendary status players to have turned out for LA Galaxy. Yet, the club finds itself at a very different juncture in 2023.
As if the fan protests outside the ground weren’t enough, the on-pitch results have been very lackluster in Major League Soccer. Two wins from its first 13 games have put them firmly at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and the worst overall record in MLS (as of late May 2023).
To add yet further issues the roster seems to suffer with disciplinary issues as it has racked up the second-highest amount of yellow cards (32) and had two players sent off the pitch. This included very questionable behavior from veteran center-back, Martin Caceres who entered the ref’s VAR area (not allowed) before putting his hands on the official.
None of which is particularly conducive to a successful football club or season. Hardcore supporters are torn as to whether they even want the team to even reach the playoffs. While seeing the team do well is great, if they don’t the disliked club president Chris Klein has said he will step down from his role – making some supporters wish for ill results upon the club.
The fans (who aren’t boycotting the game) have some right to be excited as the team is making steady progress in the U.S. Open Cup. While very much a secondary competition to most franchises, the 2-0 victory against LAFC at BMO Field would have tasted incredibly sweet. This might be the closest they’ll get to silverware this year, however.
Los Angeles FC
For many MLS fans, Steve Chelrundo embodies and facilitates good football. His LAFC team tries to craft out chances without being overly aggressive. Furthermore, the game awareness and decision-making within the team are second to none as very few balls go to waste. Oh, and he masterminded the MLS Cup victory in 2022, not bad for a franchise that started playing competitive football in 2018.
With only one loss in its opening 12 MLS matches, LAFC could be on its way to another Supporters’ Shield, with the team currently topping the Western Conference table. Gabonese forward, Denis Bounaga has been imperative to the franchise having scored 10 goals so far this season.
Add in the creative abilities of Carlos Vela and Jose Cifuentes, then this is clearly a title-chasing team with huge aspirations. On the current trajectory that LAFC is on coupled with that of the Galaxy, it might not be long until the latter is eclipsed in terms of trophies won.
This of course would only be accelerated if the reports about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joining the club are true. The isolated figure at Chelsea could add yet more Gabonese firepower to the BMO Field starting lineup. He’d even go as far as to replace some of the star power attributes vacated by Gareth Bale when he left the club and retired at the end of last season.
San Jose Earthquakes
Unfortunately known as the other team from California or the club Chris Wondowloski played at forever, the San Jose Earthquakes celebrate a rich history dating back to the very start of Major League Soccer back in 1996. Their two MLS Cup triumphs are now at least 20 years detached coming in 2001 and 2003. Heck, even their last Supporter’s Shield is consigned to the history annals back as it was last achieved in 2012.
While the franchise hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2020, there are real signs that 2023 could be the year for the Quakes to return to the big time. Cristian Espinoza can’t take all of the credit, but he can sure lay claim to a lot of it. While the Argentine winger hadn’t set the world alight in prior seasons, he’s simply terrorizing defenses from the wide areas this season. He’s also shown resolve in high-pressure situations as he took a spot-kick against LAFC. He kept his head and having already scored in the match, secured an unlikely 2-1 win for San Jose against their state rivals.
Given that a lot of San Jose’s games are close contests, it may be considered to sign more defensive options when the summer transfer window opens. Paul Marie, the French right-back at the club is an admirable player yet doesn’t have the same quality around him to keep the back line consistently straight.