LAFC 2024 MLS season preview: Tactics, predicted XI, predictions

    LAFC were on the cusp of another silverware-filled year in 2023 but came up short in their pursuit of glory, losing in three finals.

    Despite the heartbreak in MLS Cup, Campeones Cup and the Concacaf Champions Cup finals, there were still some elements of success in 2023 that provided hope for the 2024 campaign and beyond. The team remained solid at the back, conceding just 39 goals (tied for fourth-least in MLS) and finished in the top three of the Western Conference for a second season running.

    MVP candidate Denis Bouanga enjoyed an excellent first full season in the league, scoring 20 goals to take home the Golden Boot over Newcomer of the Year Giorgos Giakoumakis and MVP winner Lucho Acosta. Even though Steve Cherundolo’s side lost a few names in free agency, the front office worked to bring in ample replacements so the 2022 MLS Cup winners will remain competitive in the coming season.

    Here’s everything you need to know about the Black and Gold ahead of their 2024 MLS season.

    Hugo Lloris

    Hugo Lloris joined the Black and Gold earlier this winter / Julian Finney/GettyImages

    Transfers in


    Former Club


    Tomas Angel

    Atletico Nacional

    Free transfer

    David Martinez

    Monagas SC


    Omar Campos

    Santos Laguna


    Hugo Lloris

    Tottenham Hotspur

    Free transfer

    Lorenzo Dellavalle


    Free transfer

    Transfers out


    Club Joined


    Tony Leone

    CF Monterrey

    Free transfer

    Stipe Biuk

    Real Valladolid


    Mario Gonzalez

    Sporting Gijon


    Mohamed Traore

    Phoenix Rising FC

    Free transfer

    John McCarthy

    LA Galaxy

    Free transfer

    Maxime Crepeau

    Portland Timbers

    Free transfer

    Diego Palacios


    Free transfer

    Filip Krastev


    Loan move terminated

    Denil Maldonado

    FC Motagua

    End of loan

    Kellyn Acosta

    Out of contract

    Giorgio Chiellini


    Steve Cherundolo

    Cherundolo leads LAFC into 2024 / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

    Teams like Atlanta United, Columbus Crew, Inter Miami, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders look to control games with the ball and suffocate teams by dominating possession with continuous passing.

    However, LAFC boss Steve Cherundolo has found success with the Black and Gold doing the exact opposite: Controlling games without the ball, soaking up pressure and allowing the likes of Bouanga, Mateusz Bogusz and Cristian Olivera (and potentially Carlos Vela if he re-signs) to do damage with their pace on counter attacks.

    LAFC averaged 49.5% possession during the 34-game regular season — the 14th highest mark in the league — but still managed to score 54 goals, the seventh-highest tally in MLS.

    Cherundolo’s preferred setup is a standard 4-3-3, with Sanchez sitting just in front of the defense while Tim Tillman and Mateus Bogusz operate as box-to-box midfielders. Having elite finishers like Bouanga and Vela is what has really helped the Black and Gold succeed, and if Vela doesn’t re-sign, that leaves a lot pressure on the Gabon international to do most of the scoring — which he’s proven he can handle — with Olivera and new signings Tomas Angel and David Martinez chipping in here and there.

    All signs point to the Black and Gold’s methods of playing counter-attacking football working again in 2024, especially if they can bring in a few players for depth in the midfield and up front.

    LAFC predicted starting XI (4-3-3): Lloris; Hollingshead, Murillo, Long, Campos; Sanchez, Bogusz, Tillman; Olivera, Angel, Bouanga.

    Denis Bouanga

    Denis Bouanga

    Bouanga was MLS’ best last season / Melinda Meijer/ISI Photos/GettyImages

    Even at a star-studded club like LAFC, Denis Bouanga proved his worth in 2023 and showed why he deserved to be in the MVP conversation. He took home 20 league goals and ended up scoring 38 in the calendar year with the Black and Gold, which tied a club record Vela set back in 2019 when the former Real Sociedad player also took home MVP honors.

    At 29 years old Bouanga is in the prime of his career with LAFC and hopes to compete for more titles in 2024. He was upset after MLS Cup as his side came away empty-handed in 2023 despite playing in three finals and even proposed the idea of returning to Europe in the winter transfer window (that recently closed) — which many thought was a ploy to get a new contract as his current deal expires in December 2025.

    His electric pace and skillful dribbling combined with his lethal finishing in front of goal sees him as a not only a Golden Boot favorite for the upcoming season, but an MVP candidate as well.

    The Black and Gold lost several free agents in the winter window like John McCarty, Maxime Crepeau, Kellyn Acosta and Diego Palacios, but their front office has worked tirelessly to get unwanted players out of the door to bring in fresh faces in time for the upcoming season.

    LAFC’s third-place finish meant they’ll miss out on the revamped Concacaf Champions Cup, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While Cherundolo’s side would love to compete in the most prestigious club competition in North & Central America, not taking part allows his players to catch their breath this month and stay healthy. His players will more than likely be more available during the regular season, Leagues Cup and US Open Cup as they’re playing one less competition.

    You can expect LAFC to finish inside the top four for a third-straight season while also making deep runs in all three competitions — if they aren’t crowned as winners — in 2024.

    Will LAFC qualify for MLS Cup Playoffs? Yes


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