Los Angeles Football Club (18-5-3, W-L-T) had a busy schedule from Aug. 13-20, notching victories over Charlotte FC and D.C. United before having their seven-game winning streak snapped in San Jose. Now, LAFC travels to the capital of Texas on Aug. 26 to face off with Austin FC (14-6-6), which is chasing LAFC in the Western Conference and the Supporters Shield race. Austin handed LAFC it's only home loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat on May 18, so for LAFC, a victory would pad their lead for the Shield, but also deliver a measure of revenge for the Black & Gold.

220823_Training_IB_28

RAISING THE STAKES
During LAFC's seven-game win streak, head coach Steve Cherundolo fielded countless questions about the Supporters Shield from the media, but has been consistent in his stance that the team is not paying attention to the prospect of securing the second major trophy in Club history. Austin lost 2-1 to Minnesota United on Aug. 20, minimizing the impact of LAFC's loss to San Jose in the standings. The match-up against Austin  represents an opportunity for LAFC to put 12 points between the top two teams in the league, as well as a chance for Austin to get back within six."Everybody can read the table. There is something at stake in the game for both teams,” Cherundolo said. “Certainly, from an Austin perspective, it’s a game they’ll want to and think they’ll have to win. We have a little different situation here in L.A. We have prepared our guys accordingly.  The nice thing about this group is that I don’t need to tell them. They always play to win. That will be our stance in Austin as well."The Austin FC players and coaches have been outspoken in the media ahead of the match. Argentine attacker Emiliano Rigoni, theteam’s newest Designated Player, has said that "He's not afraid of LAFC," and the team's head coach Josh Wolff said earlier in the month that Austin is vying for the Supporter's Shield. When asked this week if the comments served as bulletin board material, midfielder Kellyn Acosta discounted the notion."As footballers, we're all ambitious. We aim high and we compete to win. So, I think their comments are part of the nature of the game. That’s how they feel. We feel confident as well. We are fighting for the Supporters Shield and we want that," said Acosta. "This is a big opportunity for us to extend our points lead on Austin and Philly on the other side. It’s been a positive year, but that means nothing if we don’t finish strong. That begins on Friday."

STEVE FOR THE WINS

LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo is making a strong case for the 2022 MLS Coach of the Year award, leading the Black & Gold to the best record in the league. Cherundolo now has 18 regular season MLS wins, tied with Frank de Boer (ATL, 2019) for the most wins by a first-year head coach since the breakaway shootout was abolished in 2000. Cherundolo is just two wins away from the overall record for most wins by a first-year head coach, held by Bob Bradley and Thomas Rongen.

MOST WINS BY A FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACH IN MLS HISTORY
COACH
YEAR
TEAM
WINS
Bob Bradley
1998
CHI
20*
Thomas Rongen
1996
TB
20*
Lothar Osiander
1996
LAG
19*
Steve Cherundolo
2022
LAFC
18
Frank de Boer
2019
ATL
18

*MLS used a breakaway shootout to determine a winner in games that ended in ties from 1996-2000.

FINISH THEM

Austin FC has been one of the top teams in Major League Soccer all year. Sebastian Driussi, a candidate for MLS Most Valuable Player this season, leads either team in goals with 18, while Maximiliano Urruti is second among Austin goal scorers with seven. Collectively, Austin's 55 goals are tied with LAFC for the league lead. Both teams are extremely dangerous offensively, but LAFC's defense, which has allowed ten less goals (26) than Austin has this year (36), could be what separates the team's in this match-up. Containing Austin's potent attack while successfully creating chances of their own is the formula for a Black & Gold victory, but in Austin's 2-1 win at the Banc earlier in the year as well as the last two matches against D.C. United and San Jose, the finishing product in the final third left much to be desired."I think most teams look to where teams are vulnerable and try to expose those. The same goes for us. Not just against Austin, against any team, Cherundolo said. “The facts are that every formation and way of playing has weaknesses. The point is to try to find a way to play with your players to minimize that amount of weaknesses. That’s what we’ve tried to do this season, what every team has done. Last time we played them, we created some good chances and opportunities, but we didn't finish. Our final product, our play in the final third, which was consistent to that phase of the season. They weren’t very clean, and we were not very effective in front of the goal. That has changed, so we are hoping to clean up that part of our game Friday. How we progress the ball forward, what movements we use, many of those will remain the same. But our product in front of the goal will be slightly adjusted and improved."

220518_ATX_AQ-16

STRIKING FIRST

LAFC is 14-0-0 in 2022 when scoring the first goal of the match.

MOST POINTS THROUGH 26 GAMES IN MLS HISTORY
TEAM
POINTS
YEAR
LAFC
61
2019
LAFC
57
2022

SANCHEZ SEES RED
Midfielder Ilie Sanchez was called for his second yellow card of the match in the 79th minute on Aug. 20 in the loss to San Jose, which left the team with just 10 players the rest of the way and forces Cherundolo to find another solution with Sanchez suspended against Austin. LAFC is 0-3 this season in games that Sanchez does not start, but Cherundolo isn't concerned about the prospect of filling Sanchez's spot in the midfield.

"Ilie is an important part of our group. It was a bit unfortunate last weekend,” Cherundolo said.  “After reviewing the play again, I don’t believe that it merited a second yellow, but I’m not the one with a badge and a whistle. It’s a little unlucky, but that’s how seasons play out. We have a few players who can play in that position: Kellyn Acosta, even [Sebastian] Mendez. We are fine as far as covering for him."

Acosta, who started as Captain in San Jose while Cherundolo rested a handful of starters including Carlos Vela,  assisted on Mahala Opoku's goal in the 2-1 loss, echoed his coach's sentiment.

"Ilie is a very important player for our team. Unfortunately, the double yellow resulted in a red card (suspension) but it’s time for the rest of us to step up,” Acosta said. “Last week I played a role as a 6; maybe this week I will again.It’s an opportunity for me to just showcase myself."

220829_Training_IB_23

RESPONDING FROM A LOSS
The match against Austin represents the fifth time this season that LAFC is playing coming off of a loss.. In three of the first four instances, LAFC has responded with a win. The only time that LAFC did not follow a loss with a victory this season was in mid-May. LAFC lost 2-1 in Colorado to the Rapids May 14 and then faced Austin at home on May 18 and fell 2-1. Cherundolo said this week that the response in training has been strong, and he expects the team to be ready for the marquee match-up

"After two days off, training was very good,” Cherundolo said. “We’ve had a good reaction from this group. We’ve had good responses after losses this year. It’s important for us to analyze as a group why we lost, and more importantly, to correct it. This is a solution oriented group. We’ve found those solutions and we will have an improved performance on Friday evening."

220518_ATX_AQ-30

CHICHO – LEADS LEAGUE IN GOALS IN A CALENDAR YEAR

Cristian Arango made his MLS debut on Aug. 8, 2021 in San Jose. Since that time, he has appeared in 43 MLS games – and scored in 21 of them, the most games with a goal in MLS in that time span. Overall, Arango has 26 regular season goals, the most goals in the league from Aug. 8, 2021 – Aug. 21, 2022, equaling former NYCFC star Valentin Castellanos.

Since joining the Black & Gold, Arango has 29 goals in all competitions for LAFC.

MOST MLS REGULAR SEASON GOALS SINCE AUG. 8, 2021 – AUG. 21, 2022
PLAYER
TEAM
GAMES
GOALS
Cristian Arango
LAFC
42
26
Valentin Castellanos
NYCFC
32
26
Hany Mukhtar
NSH
41
25
Sebastian Driussi
ATX
42
23
Jesus Ferreira
DAL
43
20

A BENCH FOR HISTORY

Mahala Opoku came off the bench and scored for LAFC on Aug. 16 vs. DC United. It was the 15th goal of the season for LAFC from a bench player. The 15 goals by substitutes is the most in MLS since 2016, and the third-highest total in MLS history.

MOST BENCH GOALS IN MLS HISTORY
GOALS
TEAM
YEAR
19
COL
1998
16
DC
2016
15
LAFC
2022
220518_ATX_AQ-18

DEPTH ON D

LAFC has used 17 different defensive starting lineups through the first 26 games of 2022. LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo has repeated the same combination of four starting defenders just three separate times in MLS regular season action.

TOP THREE DEFENSIVE STARTING LINEUPS – LAFC (2022)
Times Used
Dates
Players
Record
3
7/23, 7/29, 8/6
Escobar, Murillo, Chiellini, Palacios
3-0-0
3
2/26, 3/6, 5/1
Escobar, Murillo, Fall, Palacios
2-0-1
3
4/2, 4/9, 4/17
Hollingshead, Murillo, Fall, Palacios
2-0-1

GOAL-SCORING PARTY

LAFC has scored the most goals in MLS this season (55), equal with Austin FC. Those 55 goals have come from an MLS-high 15 different individual goal scorers this season.

MOST INDIVIDUAL GOALSCORERS IN MLS – 2022
Team Number Of Goalscorers
Goals
LAFC
15
NE
15
RSL
14
MTL
14
CHI
13
ATX
13
BlankSpace_1080x100
2023 Season Membership

2023 Season Membership

Your deposit will give you immediate access to limited LAFC Membership benefits including pre-sale access.

Receive The Latest LAFC Developments

Receive The Latest LAFC Developments

Including special invitations and offers, Academy updates, and opportunities to get involved in the community.