When LAFC take to the field Wednesday night (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info), there’s a chance the Supporters’ Shield is already locked up. That’s dependent on the meeting between Atlanta United and New York City FC at Yankee Stadium goes (7 pm ET | TV & streaming info), though a win for the Black and Gold would make things more straightforward.
The importance of this moment – potentially LAFC’s first trophy – isn’t lost on center back Walker Zimmerman. It would come nearly 19 months since Bob Bradley’s team opened as an expansion club in March 2018 at the Seattle Sounders.
“I think we understand what a win does for us, what that means for this club,” Zimmerman told media at training on Tuesday. “So, obviously, our focus and the conversations around the past few weeks, few months even, have been about our first trophy and raising a Supporters’ Shield at our home stadium in front of our fans and supporters.
“The conversation has ultimately been, ‘Hey let’s make sure our mentality is right to fight for our club, fight for each other.’ Hopefully we make that a celebration tomorrow of a moment that can capture everything we’ve done throughout this whole season.”
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While Zimmerman said the team would likely know the result of the NYCFC game before taking the field, he stressed that they did want to rely on anyone else.
"Let’s win this the right way, three points, lift up the shield at home and that’s going to feel really special," he said.
LAFC will also be looking to snap a cold streak, as they’re winless in their last five matches. But a spot in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League has already been locked up, and there’s another record to be had.
The second-year club, with two wins and a draw to close out the season, can hold the spot of most points in an MLS regular season. They’re on 65, with the record currently held by the Supporters’ Shield-clinching New York Red Bulls team (71) from 2018.
“What we’re doing is special and we’ve reiterated that statement over and over again throughout the season,” Zimmerman said. “Bob [Bradley] brought it up in a meeting the other day, that there are very few times in your career where you’re going to have a season like this, and people have maybe taken it for granted a little bit the last few weeks … It’s a season-long goal, season-long record. So three points in March are the same as three in October.”
As this year-end stretch carries on, LAFC are conscious of entering the playoffs with momentum. They’ll be the No. 1 seed in the West, and would benefit greatly from turning matters around.
The potential records for Carlos Vela – most goals in an MLS regular season (Josef Martinez holds it with 31) and the Golden Boot presented by Audi – are also on their minds. But it’s mostly about matching their standard with results to make this special season carry for as long as possible.
“I think there is frustration, but it’s not because we haven’t lifted the Shield yet,” Zimmerman said. “It’s our standards are high, our work we’ve done all season has put us in this position and we’re used to getting three points. That’s our expectation every game, home and away. When we don’t get that, we walk away disappointed.
"At the same time, we’re learning a lot as a group of how to be resilient, how to overcome a difficult time in our season. Sure it’s coming down towards the end, but it’s about how can we keep pushing through this. It’s going to be leaning on each other, leaning on the collective and making sure we’re all working for each other as we’re approaching playoffs."