MLS week in review: Beautiful Banc of California Stadium witnesses a home opening victory

In this Thursday, April 26, 2018, photo, workers prepare the playing field at Banc of California Stadium for its official opening Sunday, April 29, and the upcoming home debut of Los Angeles Football Club. The MLS expansion team built its $350 million new home in about 18 months, using cutting-edge design to create a throwback feel for the new club's fans. (AP Photo/Greg Beacham)

LAFC defender Laurent Ciman’s game-winning free kick cut past the Seattle Sounders’ wall, off the hands of goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the back of the net.

Behind the goal, an already raucous crowd got even louder, as Ciman’s goal broke a scoreless deadlock in the third minute of stoppage time, lifting LAFC to a 1-0 win in its home opener Sunday.

Ciman was the hero of that match, but the real star was the stadium itself. Banc of California Stadium, a $350 million venue, is the most expensive soccer-specific stadium in the country. That money went to making the world-class venue quintessentially L.A..

The stadium is in the heart of Los Angeles, with its architecture framing views of the downtown skyline. Its lobby and suites capture the flashy side of LA — its top level even includes a wading pool — while the stands form a formidable fortress.

With a steep set of stands, fans not only have a better view over the heads in front of them, they’re actually closer to the field. The farthest seats are within 135 feet of the field, while the closest are only 12 feet away. With the supporters section in mind, the North End grandstand seats were designed to fold up, and standing rails were positioned in front of them.

“What a crowd,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said after the match. “I’ve been lucky enough to be a lot of amazing places around the world, but the feeling inside that stadium today was incredible.”

And the home side came through. LAFC defeated Seattle, 1-0.

Fans of Los Angeles FC march outside the new Banc of California Stadium before an MLS soccer game against the Seattle Sounders in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

David Villa enters the 400 club

NYCFC striker David Villa’s first goal of Saturday night got him into the 400 club and gave NYCFC the lead over FC Dallas. Then he scored a second for good measure.

The 400th and 401st goals of Villa’s career propelled NYCFC to a 3-1 victory Sunday, handing Dallas its first loss of the season. Villa became one of just six active players to have reached the 400-goal milestone, joining an elite group that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Toronto loses CCL final, returns home for more disappointment

Toronto’s loss to Chivas in the CONCACAF Champions League was a heartbreaker. After fighting back from an aggregate deficit to force the contest into penalty kicks, Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley missed their shots from the spot, and Toronto lost 4-2 on PKs after a 3-3 aggregate draw.

The MLS’ representative in the CCL championship returned home to resume league play, which Toronto has struggled in while focusing on the CCL. Saturday was no different. TFC was unable to hold onto a two-goal lead against Chicago, and the Fire forced the match to a 2-2 draw.

Power rankings

1. Atlanta United (last week: 1) • Atlanta’s four unanswered goals earn it the top spot in the rankings for the second year in a row.

2. New York City FC (2) • NYCFC re-established its dominance in a 3-1 defeat of FC Dallas, which had gone undefeated before facing the new York City side.

3. New York Red Bulls (6) • RBNY held its ground as the Galaxy surged in the second half to claim three points on the road.

4. Los Angeles FC (5) • LAFC is undefeated in brand-new Banc of California Stadium. Never mind that the club has only had one home match.

5. Sporting Kansas City (3) • SKC’s attack was silenced by the Revs at Gillette Stadium.

6. Columbus Crew SC (7) • Mike Grella came off the bench to score the game-winner for the Crew and snap a four-match winless streak.

7. Toronto FC (4) • Toronto had a tough week, and a draw against a two-win Chicago team didn’t make it look any better.

8. Orlando City SC (unranked) • Orlando won its fifth straight Sunday at Colorado.

9. FC Dallas (8) • Dallas’ schedule got harder, and NYCFC snapped its unbeaten streak.