I guess there's a pattern now. Namely, once every 10 years (or so) an expansion team will come in and upset the league order, upset conventional wisdom, and reset expectations of what was possible. The Chicago Fire did it in 1998. The Seattle Sounders did it in 2009. Atlanta United did it in 2017. That means we shouldn't expect a good expansion team til 2026 or so, right?
You'd be foolish to expect 2018's newcomers to put too much stock into that line of thought:
In Bob Bradley LAFC have, of course, the coach with the ultimate "been there, done that" expansion resume. Bradley was the coach of that 1998 Fire group who won the MLS Cup/US Open Cup double behind what might still remain the most vicious counterattack in league history. They played a 3-5-2, used an old-fashioned sweeper, and just annihilated teams when they were allowed to get out on the run.
Bradley's LAFC group will be very different. He's outright said that they'll be playing with a front three – my guess is Carlos Vela inverted on the right and Diego Rossi inverted on the left, and probably/maybe/perhaps Marco Ureña as the No. 9 – and the backline looks very much set up for a flat four with at least one modern, overlapping, attacking fullback.
I think this eventually becomes a 4-2-1-3 team with Benny Feilhaber as the No. 10, pulling the strings but rarely breaking through the lines himself on or off the ball. They will attack by sending the three forwards and a fullback (and maybe a super-energetic box-to-box midfielder if they can discover their own Cristian Roldan) into the zone, and defend with structure rather than pressure.
Bradley puts his new side through their paces | LAFC
Considering where LAFC have invested their resources at this point I really am pretty convinced about that, and I'm convinced about what formation we'll see out of the gate. I've also talked myself into where they'll draw their line of confrontation (high, but not SKC or RBNY-level high).
The real mystery revolves around the third, as-yet-unused Designated Player slot.
Vela was their first DP, and Rossi their second. They have been linked to players all over the world for the third, and I think you could justify defensive midfield (the last three MLS Cup champions all had DP d-mids), attacking midfield (Feilhaber's still good, but he's 33 and not what he was back in 2015 when he was an MVP finalist) or center forward (Ureña's an excellent defensive center forward, which pretty much tells you what you need to know about his finishing).
I admit some surprise that purchase hasn't been made yet, but all things in their time, I suppose. LAFC want to upend history, not rush it.