Los Angeles FC head coach Steve Cherundolo is in a confident mood ahead of Thursday’s playoff match with local rivals LA Galaxy, saying his team will be “ready to perform.”
In his first season as LAFC head coach, Cherundolo’s side finished top of the Western Conference in style after finishing 11 points above Austin FC in second.
Understandably after such an impressive regular season, Cherundolo feels his side will put in a good display against the Galaxy, who finished 17 points and three places behind LAFC.
“Training has been as expected, intense and concentrated,” Cherundolo told reporters.
“The players know exactly what’s coming their way and have put in a good shift this week.
“(We will) finish up tomorrow with some final touches, and we’ll be ready to perform on Thursday night.”
Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney spoke of his excitement at the two local rivals meeting in the playoffs, saying: “The proximity of these two teams is miles away.
“It should be exciting, interesting and I’m sure the league and those around are over the moon that this has come to where it is.”
The Galaxy finished the regular season strongly, winning three of their last four matches to secure their postseason spot before overcoming Nashville in the first round to set up this clash against LAFC.
Striker Javier Hernandez wants his team to carry the momentum from the Nashville win into Thursday’s match, saying: “We’re going to be in the same mindset, in the same mentality.
“We’re going to plan for the most difficult game, like we planned this one against Nashville. We’re going to plan our game, try to go over there and win to get through.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Los Angeles FC – Carlos Vela
No player has scored more goals against a single opponent than Vela against the Galaxy since LAFC joined MLS in 2018, and he would love to add to that tally in this huge playoff clash.
LA Galaxy – Javier Hernandez
Hernandez scored 18 times this season to finish as the Galaxy’s top scorer, while adding two assists. Can he come up big for his team with another strike here?
KEY OPTA FACTS
– LAFC and Galaxy each defeated the other at home this season in league play, with LAFC winning 3-2 at Banc of California Stadium on July 8 after the Galaxy won 2-1 at Dignity Health Sports Park on April 9. There has only been one road win in the 15 non-neutral site games between the rivals in all competitions, a 2-0 Galaxy win at Banc of California Stadium in August 2020.
– This will be the second postseason edition of El Trafico, with the first going to LAFC, 5-3, in the 2019 Western Conference semi-finals.
– After a seven-match winning streak in July-August, LAFC collected just 10 points (three wins, one draw, five defeats) in their final nine games of the season as 17 teams took more points than them from mid-August through the end of the season.
– The Galaxy’s 1-0 win over Nashville in the first round on Saturday continued their great home postseason record as they have won 27 of their last 31 home playoff games dating back to 1999. The road has been less friendly to the Galaxy, as they have managed just one win in their last eight away playoff matches (one draw, six defeats) dating back to the 2012 Western Conference Final.
– Julian Araujo headed in the Galaxy’s winning goal against Nashville on Saturday, his first MLS goal since October 2020. It was also the Galaxy’s first headed goal since Rayan Raveloson scored with his head against LAFC in the July 8 edition of El Trafico, as none of the Galaxy’s previous 32 league goals were headers.