Launching a Major League Soccer franchise is now portrayed in a docuseries on ESPN+, “We Are LAFC.”
The series following the inaugural season of the Los Angeles FC is available on ESPN+ this week, as the team gears up to start its second season on March 3. “We Are LAFC” is the first all-access series documenting a full season of a new sports organization, a content opportunity grabbed by ESPN, MLS and LAFC. The team set an expansion record for points in its first season, making the playoffs before being bounced in the first round.
“We knew that we had a unique challenge to create a club from scratch,” LAFC President and Co-Owner Tom Penn said. “It was important for us to tell that story properly from the beginning and to really bring to life how we engaged with our most passionate fans and supporters and involved them in the journey.”
The show features LAFC head coach Bob Bradley mic’d up in practices and games, as well as staff meetings and locker room chats. Also featured are the team’s players, general manager John Thorrington, and members of the 31-person ownership team, including actor Will Ferrell.
The 10-episode series details the launch of the team, its game against crosstown rival LA Galaxy, the home opener, the introduction of new players, a playoff clincher and the end of the season. The series was co-produced by Mandalay Sports Media, with Jon Weinbach and Mike Tollin as executive producers. The series is also available in Spanish, “Somos LAFC.”
ESPN leadership felt it was a natural project to pursue, said Craig Lazarus, vice president of original content and features. Lazarus said teams make ideal content for season-long initiatives because of the number of storylines that spin-off from owners, front office employees, head coaches, players, and fans.
A new team only expands on all the potential, he said, including building a roster from scratch, a new fan base, and new stadium and practice facility.
“An expansion franchise is ideal for this project because there is so much more to the journey than a team that already exists,” Lazarus said.
“We Are LAFC” is an extension of MLS’ partnership with ESPN and its commitment to telling stories of the league to its fans when and where they want, said Seth Bacon, MLS senior vice president of media.
“ESPN+ is the perfect platform to achieve that goal,” Bacon said. “We are all proud of the series and we know it will resonate with a wide audience.”
ESPN+ has a wide array of similar content, such the LeBron James docuseries “More Than An Athlete” and “Earn Everything,” an all-access series following the Duke University men’s basketball team.
“Original content on ESPN+ aims to bring fans distinctive insights and get them closer to teams and athletes, including through exclusive behind-the-scenes access,” said Russell Wolff, ESPN+ executive vice president and general manager. “’We Are LAFC’ is the latest example of the kind of all-access, authentic storytelling ESPN+ delivers, and LAFC and MLS have been great collaborators on the project.”
Soccer and MLS continue their rise in popularity, and using off-the-field and original content like “We Are LAFC” will help build the fan base further and attract sports fans in general.
“Major League Soccer is on fire,” Penn said. “The soccer culture in America is exploding. We are thrilled to share the start of our football culture and movement in Los Angeles.”