Training Report

Notes from Training | Matchday 13

Following its cup win in Las Vegas, LAFC turns the page to a home date with Vancouver and the packed May schedule that follows

03222024 LAFC training

Spring break is over.

As if facing an in-form Vancouver Whitecaps team this weekend weren’t challenging enough, LAFC finds itself in a 29-day stretch in which it will play eight games. That’s one kickoff every 87 hours.

The Black & Gold’s current moment harkens back to 2023, when LAFC played an MLS-record 53 total matches across all competitions. For that situation – and this current one – LAFC’s players can only blame their own success. Their MLS Cup championship season in 2022 steered them into last year’s eight-game Concacaf Champions Cup run. And LAFC’s win in Las Vegas earlier this week dropped a new match onto their 2024 schedule in the form of a U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 meeting with Loudoun United on May 21 [$20 GA tickets].

After 11 weeks of playing one match each weekend, the Black & Gold calendar is suddenly packed.

“Last year we were able to build a nice little road map for how to manage those types of weeks,” head coach Steve Cherundolo said after Friday’s training session at the LAFC Performance Center. “We obviously start with our rotations in Vegas and will still field a strong team [vs. Vancouver].”

“Managing a load of players in training and making sure that we spread the minutes out without losing any quality or efficiency as a group – that is what we try to do,” Cherundolo added. “I thought we did it excellently last year and hopefully, you know, we'll get through these weeks this year in the same fashion.”


When forward Cristian “Kiké” Olivera entered Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup match in the 63rd minute, the Las Vegas Lights had just tied the game at one, and the Black & Gold were in need of a jolt. Olivera’s footspeed is always eye-catching, but the tenacity with which he deployed it against the Lights is what made the difference in LAFC’s 3-1 result.

That – and his two goals.

“It's a good sign,” Cherundolo said of Olivera’s performance, “and for Kiké, I'm also really happy for him personally because he's been working really hard to put himself in those areas, and also in the category of finishing those moments in games in order to get on the score board. That work is paying off.”

Olivera’s two goals in Vegas give him three in LAFC’s last two games, which matches his goal total in his first 27 appearances for LAFC since he arrived from Uruguay last August.


One of Olivera’s goals in Las Vegas was assisted by 21-year-old left back Omar Campos, who said of LAFC’s next opponent, Vancouver: “We have seen the video of the team. Obviously they are dangerous on the wings, especially on the left. In fact we have worked on that so that they don't hurt us too much, and we get the result.”

The Whitecaps, currently in fourth place in the Western Conference, “are very disciplined in their structure and their organization, and they are extremely hard working,” said Cherundolo. “It's a tough team to break down and a team who's excellent at capitalizing on your mistakes. They understand their identity and they stick to it and that's a recipe for success in this league – in any league really, if you ask me.”

Forward Kei Kamara, who has played for a record 11 different MLS teams, recorded 14 goals and 6 assists for Vancouver in 2018.

“I'm facing another team that I played for,” the 39-year-old said with a grin. “But this one is different than before, because Vancouver is top right now. You know, they're playing so much better than in most of the years in the history of the Whitecaps. So we have to give them so much more respect than before.”

That 2018 Vancouver team finished 14th in the Supporters’ Shield standings, but Kamara’s memories of playing in British Columbia are fond ones. “My experience was amazing really,” he said. “Except for playing on turf all the time. I probably could play maybe five more years if I take those years back.”

Kamara starred in high school and college in the L.A. area, and remains grateful to be back. “Nothing beats the weather that we have here compared to the weather that’s in Vancouver.”


The fleet-footed Campos appears to have returned to LAFC’s three-man rotation of outside backs (with Ryan Hollingshead and Sergi Palencia) following a rest period after his March appearance with Mexico’s U-23 team. “Yes, the defensive line, we are all available for whoever needs to be there,” Campos said. “I think we are working in the best way. It is a healthy competition. Obviously everyone wants to play but the coach is the one who decides, and everyone is there, everyone is available and everyone is at their best.”


The stat of the week comes from MLS and Apple TV analyst Matthew Doyle, who noted that the goal and five assists tallied by Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi last weekend tied LAFC assistant coach Ante Razov’s 24-year-old record for most goal contributions in any MLS game. As a member of the Chicago Fire in 2000, Razov collected two goals and four assists in a playoff game against New England.


LAFC has lost just once to Vancouver in nine total matches at BMO Stadium (5W-1L-3D). LAFC’s only home loss to the Whitecaps was a 3-2 result last June (2023).

Caps defender Tristan Blackmon was the first player LAFC selected in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft prior to the Black & Gold’s inaugural season. Blackmon made 64 appearances for LAFC from 2018 to 2021. He started 28 regular-season games for Vancouver in 2023, and has started nine of Vancouver’s 10 matches this year.

LAFC assistant coach Marc dos Santos served as Vancouver’s head coach from 2019 to 2021.

LAFC’s MLS regular season resumes on Saturday, May 11, when it hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 p.m. PT at BMO Stadium. The match can be seen live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, with radio coverage on 710 AM ESPN LA, ESPN LA App, and KFWB 980 AM La Mera Mera (Español), and SiriusXM FC.

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