MLS Powerhouse LAFC hopes to avoid dodging Blues in playoffs – NBC Los Angeles


Los Angeles FC has spent most of this year at the top of the Major League Soccer standings. He eventually earned the Fans’ Shield as the league’s regular season champions for the second time in four years.

And because this star-studded club plays in the MLS, a dominant season and half a decade of remarkable success could be seriously affected by a single 90-minute game against rivals at crosstown Thursday night.

“We know that all the things we did in the past during the season no longer matter,” said LAFC striker Carlos Vela. “It’s a completely different competition now.”

LAFC opened the MLS Posteason Championship to avoid the disappointing fate of another Los Angeles sporting powerhouse playing within 6 miles of Bank of California Stadium.

Just five days before LAFC hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Dodgers take a 111 win Six months of Major League Baseball dominance evaporated in four playoffs Against his closest competitor in the National League, the San Diego Padres.

While people baseball Extended Postseason Justice DiscussionLAFC first-year coach Steve Chirondulo has been busy preparing the first-team MLS for a knockout knockout match that could have a huge impact on how some fans view the season, even if it isn’t.

“It’s definitely different from playing for the Cheerleader’s Shield,” Chirondolo said. “You have 34 chances to get the job done. In a knockout environment you have 90 minutes or 120 minutes and penalties if you need to. I’m not really sure that’s the best way to measure the team’s performance over the whole season, so it’s close to Thursday night.”

Only seven of the last 26 regular season champions have also lifted the MLS Cup, and only two teams have done so in the past decade. LAFC also won the cheerleader’s shield in its second season under coach Bob Bradley in 2019, but then lost to Seattle in the Western Conference Finals.

Chirondolo grew up in Southern California, but spent most of his adult life as a player and coach in Germany, where regular season success is the ultimate goal. This is the case in about three-quarters of the domestic leagues in the world, including all the major European leagues.

With this background in mind, Chirondolo tells his players to think of the playoffs not as an extension of the regular season, but a cup competition with separate narratives and results.

“Every title means something, and to me, they’re all the same,” said Chirondolo, who broke the MLS record for wins by first-time coach of the year. “The teams I coach, we’ll try to win every competition we play in. They all mean something, so I don’t put any one above the other. … We forgot about that (the cheerleader shield). We put that on the shelf in the building, and we go on, And that means nothing on Thursday.”

LAFC had a tough game in the first of three potential playoffs: the club starts at home against Galaxy, who played the playoffs in their best form this year.

LAFC has won only one of its last six encounters with the Galaxy, who lost only once in their last 11 regular season games before defeating Nashville last weekend in the opening round. Head coach Greg Fani’s club is rolling behind Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Ricky Puig, the 23-year-old midfielder who has just arrived from Barcelona.

“They changed a few pieces, but it’s still the same game,” Chirondolo said of the Galaxy. “They have changed quite a bit in their progression and their positional play…but at this point in the season, nobody is trying to reinvent themselves. I think they have a little more confidence than they had in the middle of the season.”

LAFC hasn’t been at its best, winning only three of its last nine games before trying to stay strong during the current 11-day break with an opening-round playoff. The similarities to the Dodgers’ conditions are remarkable, but Cherundolo remains confident his best players will perform when they are needed most.

Gareth Bale has not been a major factor since the long-time Real Madrid winger moved to the United States in the summer. The Wales captain has started in the World Cup only twice in 12 matches while playing 347 minutes in total, and while he scored twice early in his stint, he is goalless in his last eight matches.

Giorgio Chiellini has contributed even more, making nine appearances at the center of defense and it’s clear he’s had a leadership impact on his young teammates since his arrival from Juventus over the summer.

But LAFC is full of talent, top scorer Christian Arango is healthy and ready to lead this team as if they have nothing to lose on Thursday.

“As players, we live for the big games,” said LAFC quarterback Clayen Acosta. “It’s more excitement than tension. It’s a little bit dangerous, but we have fun out there. We play a kid’s game for a living.”


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