Ilie Sanchez Gets Ready for 2024 Season on Sirius XM FC

LAFC Midfielder Discusses His Worst Moment, Making Commercials And Strength Of The Team's Culture

230228 Illie Sanchez

LAFC midfielder and MLS All-Star Ilie Sanchez recently joined Tony Meola and Brian Dunseth on Sirius XM FC to discuss the upcoming 2024 MLS season that kicks off on Feb. 24 when LAFC hosts Seattle at 1:30 p.m. PT at BMO Stadium.

Sanchez, who played in all 34 MLS regular season games last season for the first time since 2018, continues to emerge as one of the leaders and most consistent performers for the Black & Gold since he arrived prior to the 2022 season.

But as the Barcelona native gears up for his eighth season in MLS, he took a moment to look back on a difficult 2023 that saw LAFC play a total of 53 matches in all competitions and lose three finals with a trophy on the line.

It was the first of those losses – LAFC’s 3-1 aggregate defeat to Club Leon from Liga MX in the Concacaf Champions League Final that ranks as one of the worst moments of his career and put him in a dark place that had him reevaluate the way the veteran prepares for matches.

“Losing that game was probably the worst moment of my career,” Sanchez said. “That was a big hit for me. I have to say – it was a difficult situation for me to go through. I am not trying to [make it dramatic], but it was a difficult time for me to experience.”

With the games coming fast and furious as the Black & Gold were forced to play a make-up regular season match vs. Atlanta just three days after the final, Sanchez was soon able to reflect and then used the loss to recalibrate his mental and physical approach to preparing for games.

“That loss in some way changed the way I prepare myself,” Sanchez said. “I have always tried to take care of my body and my routine on and off the field, but after losing CCL – I started adjusting some of the steps in my routine and also my point of view to find ways for me to improve even as I get older. I can always find ways to be a better athlete and also a person.”

The losses on the international stage have left Sanchez desperate for LAFC to win a trophy against a Liga MX team – and they will have the opportunity again this summer in the Leagues Cup.

“Having those hard experiences against Mexican teams [last year], I think there are a lot of things we could learn about the game and the game model that [Liga MX] does and that we didn’t do,” Sanchez said. “It’s not just the players – but everyone within the organization needs to learn from those situations and those opponents and be better. Hopefully we can fight for those trophies in the future and that is something I am playing for.”

2024 Jersey Launch Illie Denis Hugo Thorrington

L.A. COMMERCIAL STARIf you watched MLS Season Pass on Apple TV last season, you couldn’t miss it. The Continental Tire commercial featuring Sanchez stepping up to take the game-winning penalty kick in the 2022 MLS Cup, and then looking into the camera to make his tire pitch. It was ubiquitous throughout MLS broadcasts – and something that Sanchez became known for amongst fans.

“I probably sold myself a little short, a little too cheap for the amount of times that I have seen the commercial and that I have heard people mention it to me,” Sanchez joked to Meola and Dunseth. “It was a fun experience, working with a team of professionals like that to record a big commercial. You know, Los Angeles is the top in the world for this kind of thing – so it was a good experience for me overall.”

SOMETHING SPECIAL AT LAFCSanchez brings a highly elevated soccer pedigree to LAFC, having started his career in the famed La Masia Youth Academy at FC Barcelona and appearing in 114 games over five years with Barcelona B while sharing a training pitch and practice facility with legends such as Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, David Villa, and many, many more.

So, it is perhaps the highest praise he can give when he told Meola and Dunseth that the soccer and winning culture at LAFC is at a high level.

“What they have created at LAFC is just a pure soccer culture,” Sanchez explained. “Everything is designed for us to be able to perform on game day…They keep it as easy as possible for us to just go out there and do our jobs and then perform on game day.”


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