El Tráfico: New-look LAFC keeps rolling and defeats Galaxy

Carlos Vela is one of five remaining players on the 2019 LAFC team that won the Supporters’ Shield and broke the MLS record for points in a season. So with the team leading the league again and just four points off the pace of 2019, Vela was asked about the similarities this week.

There aren’t many, said the team’s captain, which largely explains this season’s success.

“We’re a really strong team, more mature, more experienced,” he said.

“When you always see the same faces [day], Motivation is hard to find. This year with many changes in how we play, [we’re] always in a good place to really trust what we do and get the motivation to dream really big.”

LAFC goaltender Maxime Crépeau controls the ball in the first half against Galaxy on July 8, 2022.

LAFC goalie Maxime Crepeau controls the ball in the first half. He finished the night with four saves, one from his high of the season.

(Kyusung Gong/Associated Press)

LAFC’s off-season makeover saw 10 players removed and eight added, and two of those additions played a key role in Friday’s sloppy 3-2 win at Banc of California Stadium over the Galaxy, with Kellyn Acosta opening the scoring with one Corner kick and one-keeper assist Maxime Crepeau makes four saves, one from his high of the season.

The first two goals, once in each half, were scored by José Cifuentes, the first multi-goal game of his MLS career, and the third by Cristian Arango.

The win, the team’s fifth in the team’s last seven MLS games, put LAFC (12-4-3) five points ahead of Austin in the Western Conference rankings and Supporters’ Shields, and the three goals built the team’s lead in the League in terms of goals and goals from differential.

LAFC continued to lead MLS in all three categories in 2019.

For the Galaxy (8-7-3), the loss was their first this season against a team in the top 6 in league standings, ending a five-game unbeaten streak against their local rivals and dropping them closer to the dividing line in the playoffs -Teams of the conference from the non-qualifiers. The three allowed goals also corresponded to a season high.

But for all the changes LAFC general manager John Thorrington has made on the field — six of Friday’s starters, including Arango, weren’t with the team at that time last season — the key difference might be off the bench, where laid-back Steve Cherundolo has replaced fiery Bob Bradley.

“They’re like two opposing sides,” Vela said. “Bob is really an intense trainer. He wants everything to be perfect.”

But with cherundolo, “it feels cooler and cooler,” Vela said. “He will just let people enjoy [the game]. He’ll say, “Come on, follow a few rules. But after that just show your skills, your talent and do your best for the team.”

LAFC's José Cifuentes, right in the air, scores a goal in the first half against the Galaxy on July 8, 2022.

LAFC midfielder José Cifuentes, airborne at right, scores a goal with a header in the first half. The multi-goal game was the first of his MLS career.

(Kyusung Gong/Associated Press)

That worked on Friday, when LAFC got the first goal in the 17th minute when Cifuentes broke free on a corner kick to head an Acosta cross off the edge of the six-yard box. That was a good omen as LAFC have won the eight previous games in which they scored first this season.

But sloppy passing – LAFC completed less than three-quarters of their attempts – plagued the team all night and allowed the Galaxy to equalize for Samuel Grandsir’s first goal of the season in the 55th minute.

Cifuentes equalized in the 70th minute when he headed in a left-footed Vela cross from outside the box. The assist was the team-leading seventh of the season for the LAFC captain.

Arango scored a breakaway two minutes later, a goal that proved victorious when Rayan Raveloson, who had the assist for Grandsir’s goal, headed in one of his own nine minutes from time.

Galaxy midfielder Rayan Raveloson shoots in the first half against LAFC on July 8, 2022.

Galaxy midfielder Rayan Raveloson shoots in the first half. He scored a goal in the 81st minute but it wasn’t enough.

(Kyusung Gong/Associated Press)

That was as close as the Galaxy would come. But Vela warned that unless LAFC finishes the year in the MLS Cup, the team’s success in the second half of the season will mean little.

The record-breaking 2019 season ended in a loss in the second playoff game, leaving the team with some unfinished business this fall.

“The most important part of the season is coming up,” he said. “We have to be ready to show how good we are in the most difficult moments.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/story/2022-07-08/el-trafico-new-look-lafc-keeps-rolling-beats-galaxy El Tráfico: New-look LAFC keeps rolling and defeats Galaxy

Emma Bowman

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