LOS ANGELES – The new guys in town are prepared to stake their claim on at least a part of it.
The new Los Angeles MLS team, known as LAFC, was officially launched Thursday at an event in Hollywood, and one of the principle owners, Hollywood producer Peter Guber, was quick to use an age-old storytelling analogy to set the stage for the club's future rivalry with the LA Galaxy.
“Every movie needs a hero and a villain,” said Guber, whose producing credits include such films as Rain Man and The Color Purple. “Every combination brings drama to it. We’re in the drama business. That’s the drama: Can we compete? Someone asked me, ‘How are you ever going to compete as the second team in the market place?’
"Well, I said, ‘Maybe by becoming the first team.’”
That won't be an easy task. By 2017, when the new LA club is set to debut in MLS, the Galaxy will have had a 21-year head start. By then, they may have added to their already-impressive haul of four MLS Cups, four Supporters' Shields, and two US Open Cup titles. And they will almost certainly be loaded with international stars to replace the likes current star Landon Donovan.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber told reporters he hopes that LAFC can help replicate in Southern California what the league has in the Pacific Northwest with Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. Guber said he respects what the Galaxy have accomplished in the area, but he sees plenty of room for a second club in the area. He pointed to the fast-rising Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA, who have become a legitimate rival to the Los Angeles Lakers, as an example of what could happen in MLS.
“The idea is that the marketplace is big enough and large enough for two competitors to live warmly, but combatively,” said Guber, who is also a co-owner of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers and the NBA's Golden State Warriors. “That’s going to be our attitude, and that’s how we’ll bring everyone in. We want to engage respectfully but fight like heck on the field.”
The Galaxy might be the standard they aim for, but the slow integration of a new club in the greater Los Angeles area is also about giving the population an alternative.
“For every Coke, there needs to be a Pepsi,” said LAFC co-owner Tony Robbins, the best-selling author and business strategist. “It only helps the sport.”