Since returning in mid-June following a three-week international break, the Los Angeles Football Club has accumulated its second-largest points haul of the Major League Soccer season.
Matching an impressive 7-1-1 start, LAFC maintained its Supporters’ Shield lead over a dwindling number of contenders by once again raking in 22 of a possible 27 points after road wins the past two weeks.
With 13 matches left in the regular season, LAFC (14-4-3, 45 points) has already matched its point total from last season.
Hosting the Seattle Sounders (9-10-2, 29 points) on Friday presents an opportunity to place heavy pressure on the most successful team in MLS since 2009. Seattle is currently under the playoff line, and LAFC is looking to close out July with four consecutive Western Conference wins.
“That chunk of games is a good example of what we want to be at the end of the season,” LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau said. “Being solid in every phase of the game. And obviously, the new faces and the guys who were there in the preseason and the guys that have been here for years have done the job, and we’ll keep working to get better.”
For any team, the ability to gel as a unit is often the factor that decides its success or failure. In this respect, the stretch of matches beginning with a road draw in mid-June against the CONCACAF Champions League-winning Sounders solidified LAFC as a tight-knit group as players arrived or departed during the ongoing transfer window.
“For new players we’re adding, if we do add new players, the bar is quite high,” said LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo, who called his first-place team relaxed yet hungry for more. “It’s a great position right now to try to add new pieces to improve the group because the group is already very good.
“All of the players have contributed so far, and that’s been pretty much everyone on the roster. That’s a huge compliment to them. They’ve been excelling and pushing the envelope forward in trying to maximize our potential, which has been our goal all season.”
Team captain Carlos Vela appreciates the way LAFC’s first-year head coach, along with his assistants, has utilized players up and down the roster on matchdays.
The club’s holistic effort has led to a league-best 13 goal-scorers off the bench for LAFC so far in 2022, adding its latest last weekend when Gareth Bale snatched his first in Black & Gold.
“Everyone is trying to give their best because we know when everyone plays as a team we are really strong,” Vela said, “so that’s the way we are working and we have to continue in that line if we really want to win something this year.
“I think that’s so important for us because we are building really good chemistry.”
Leaning into a “we versus me” attitude is critical as the final third of the season unfolds ahead of a playoff push that LAFC hopes ends with its first MLS Cup, Crepeau said.
“Not every group has it,” the Canadian goalkeeper explained in the aftermath of his sixth shutout with LAFC. “It’s rare and you’re trying to build it. It’s something that forms naturally. I’ve been part of teams that had that and other teams that were going there. Here I feel that we do have this and it’s just positive for the whole organization and the city.”
LAFC VS. SEATTLE
When: Friday, 8:15 p.m. PT
Where: Banc of California Stadium
TV/Radio: FS1, FOX Deportes/710 AM, 980 AM