They've heard it all year: Can LAFC be the best expansion team in MLS history?
There's a high bar to reach to get there. Only two teams since expansion really took off in 2005, the Seattle Sounders in 2009 and Atlanta United in 2017, have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in their debut campaign. Only the Sounders and Chicago Fire won the U.S. Open Cup in their first year in MLS. And only one expansion team in MLS history, the Fire, lifted MLS Cup in their first season, which happened under current LAFC head coach Bob Bradley in 1998.
The past doesn't appear to worry LAFC, however, and goalkeeper Tyler Miller explained to reporters in training on Wednesday that the club is taking the approach of balancing a chase for history with a desire to be the best team around, expansion label or not.
"We've built this club not to be content with being in 3rd place or not winning championships," Miller said. "This club is here to win championships. So we want to be in a situation where we can get a first-round bye, and win the Supporters' Shield and then win the MLS Cup."
Miller referenced Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final, won by the Houston Dynamo3-0 over the Philadelphia Union, after the Dynamo prevailed in the Open Cup semifinal round over LAFC in a penalty shootout.
"I'll be honest with you: The U.S. Open Cup final is today, and that kills us that we're not there. Because we think we should be there. That's the type of mentality the players have, the coaching staff has, and the entire organization as a whole has," he said.
With the Open Cup out of reach for this season and the Supporters' Shield a very long shot, at best, attention turns to clinching a playoff spot, seeding in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, and going for MLS Cup, says Miller.
"I don't think we're really chasing [any expansion team], honestly. We all know that Bob started there, with the Fire and they had one of the most successful expansion teams ever. We want to be the most successful expansion team ever, but we also want to win MLS Cup. So I think we'll take not being the most successful team ever to win MLS Cup, because that's our focus right now."
LAFC are in action on Saturday, when they take on the Fire at Toyota Park (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter — Full TV & Streaming Info).