LAFC have gone from a team on the brink of being arguably the greatest in Major League Soccer history to one in a serious slump.
Just a month ago, LAFC were in the Concacaf Champions League final, 180 minutes away from a first-of-its-kind Supporters’ Shield-MLS Cup-CCL treble over the span of eight months.
But they lost to Liga MX’s Club León and have now dropped eight of their last 11 games in all competitions. A 2-1 defeat Tuesday night to the LA Galaxy in front of an MLS record crowd of more than 82,000 at the Rose Bowl marked LAFC’s third consecutive league defeat.
“We’re still not firing at full strength. It will come, but I don’t think that’s exclusive to LAFC,” LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said after the El Tráfico setback.
“That’s a lot of clubs right now who are missing players. It’s a tough stretch for us, a lot of games, but we’ll get through it. I think if we continue to work on our effectiveness in our own end, not giving up soft goals and making sure that the chances we do get are finished with goals, we’ll see happier times here at LAFC.”
LAFC were without defenders Aaron Long (Gold Cup), Sergi Palencia (injury), Jesus Murillo (injury) and Diego Palacios (suspension) for their derby clash and there’s “expectable and logical fatigue,” according to Cherundolo from their deep run in the CCL.
Still, he said, LAFC didn’t play a complete 90 minutes against the Galaxy in Matchday 23.
“I didn’t like the defensive performance in the first half. In the second half, I was very pleased with the performance with and without the ball and in transition, we created a lot of moments for us. Didn’t quite execute perfectly in those moments, but we were very close. Set pieces were better in the second half,” Cherundolo said.
“A much-improved performance in the second half. But at this level, you need to play 90 minutes that way in order to come away with a victory.”
The rivalry defeat was LAFC’s ninth in 20 all-time El Tráfico matches. While Cherundolo bristled when told the Galaxy have gotten the upper hand in the rivalry, he also acknowledged how much the defeat stings.
“These games mean a lot and I’m pissed off, but that’s okay that it hurts and we’re upset,” he said. “It should motivate us moving forward and it will.”
Still, despite their current poor run of form, LAFC are in third place in the Western Conference table, three points behind leaders St. Louis CITY SC.
While rest would be nice, Cherundolo said there’s just one thing that can cure LAFC’s woes. Their next opportunity to accomplish that comes Saturday evening when welcoming the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass)
“I think we need points. Wins is the only thing that can correct your course and to gain confidence,” he said. “That’s the best medicine there is. We’ll work over the next couple of days to field a team to do that. So I think that’s our main focus right now is San Jose Saturday. Nothing else matters.
“… We need to get through this next game with three points. That’s very important for us.”
WATCH: LA Galaxy win El Tráfico before 82k+ at the Rose Bowl
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