LAFC and Galaxy hope to have fans at home games this season
The season will kick off April 17, although it is unknown whether either team will play its opener at home since the league has not released its schedule. Neither team has played before spectators at home since early last March.
“We are hopeful to have partial capacity for our home opener in April,” Galaxy spokeswoman Vicky Mercado said.
Last month the Dodgers, who also played home games in an empty stadium last season, became the first local team to confirm it is working with the governor’s office and public health officials on a plan to allow a limited number of fans to attend games at Dodger Stadium, beginning with the team’s regular-season opener on April 9.
In a video sent to season-ticket holders, team president Stan Kasten said, “I hope, by opening day, we are finally going to have some fans in the park. I don’t think it will be a full stadium just yet. But I do believe sometime during this season, the way things are looking, we will have a full stadium again.”
Representatives for both the Galaxy and LAFC said Tuesday their clubs also are awaiting direction from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and local health authorities. With COVID-19 infections and deaths declining across the state, some restrictions have been lifted, but Los Angeles County remains in the most restrictive purple tier, indicating widespread transmission of the virus. As a result, most large gatherings, including attendance at professional sports events, are banned.
Jorge Villafaña’s long soccer journey has included many ups and downs, and will now take him back home but with the Galaxy this time.
The last professional sporting event played before spectators in Los Angeles County was an NHL game between the Kings and Ottawa Senators at Staples Center on March 11, 2020. That night, the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game in Oklahoma City was canceled after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA announced within hours that it was suspending its season and early the following afternoon MLS, the NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA had done the same.
One of the first games canceled in Southern California was LAFC’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Cruz Azul at Banc of California Stadium. Before that, LAFC had played three home games before sellout crowds. The Galaxy played just once in front of fans last season.
When MLS resumed play in home markets in August, both LAFC and the Galaxy did so without fans, although local guidelines in other cities allowed a handful of MLS teams to play before limited, socially distanced crowds. An estimated 1,500 people attended December’s MLS Cup final in Columbus, Ohio.