A new club in Los Angeles and an influx of talented players from Latin America will take center stage as Major League Soccer kicks off its 23rd season this weekend.
After a year of record-breaking attendances in 2017, MLS will aim to build on that success as it expands to 23 teams with the introduction of Los Angeles Football Club.
LAFC’s arrival will provide one of the most intriguing storylines of the new season as they attempt to exploit the decline of five-time MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy. The expansion side looks perfectly poised to supplant Galaxy as the preeminent team in the California metropolis.
An ownership group that contains NBA legend Magic Johnson and Hollywood actor Will Ferrell has ensured a sprinkling of stardust, and the team will play home games in a new 22,000-seat stadium close to downtown Los Angeles.
On the field, LAFC have assembled a cosmpolitan squad which will be spearheaded by Mexico striker Carlos Vela, and a Costa Rican player: international forward Marco Ureña.
Vela and Ureña will be supported by Uruguayan teenager Diego Rossi, one of more than 60 Latin American players plying their trade in MLS.
Los Angeles will be coached by former US national team coach Bob Bradley, who returns to management after his ill-fated 85-day stay with Swansea City in the English Premier League in 2016.
Bradley is itching to get started after spending more than a year on the sidelines following his departure from Swansea.
Los Angeles open with a daunting away game against the 2017 Western Conference champion Seattle Sounders on Sunday.