Training Report

Notes from Training | Matchday 7

A rejuvenated LAFC seeks to bring three points home from Colorado for the first time in six years

240327 LAFC training PC

The last time LAFC won an away match over Western Conference foes the Colorado Rapids, Shohei Ohtani had just finished his rookie season, LeBron James had just joined the Lakers, and current LAFC goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had just won the 2018 World Cup as France’s captain.

The date was October 6, 2018. Denis Bouanga was a 23-year-old rising star in France’s Ligue 1. Steve Cherundolo was an assistant coach for Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart, and Giorgio Chiellini, LAFC’s recently retired center back and now its player development coach, had just signed a contract extension with Italian club Juventus.

LAFC was in its first year of MLS play and was wrapping up a storybook season in which it tied the record for points by an MLS team in an expansion season. Thirty-nine-year-old Tim Howard was in goal for the Rapids, but the USMNT legend allowed two goals by Adama Diomande and a third by Walker Zimmerman in a 3-0 LAFC rout that made LAFC just the fourth expansion club in MLS history to advance to the playoffs. 

LAFC hasn’t won in Colorado since. 

In fact, the Black & Gold has not scored a goal in Colorado in its last two visits there, and has been shut out in three of the five games it has played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park over the years.

LAFC attacker Mateusz Bogusz expressed confidence that Saturday’s outcome will be different, based on last weekend’s 5-0 win over Nashville. “I think they play similar to Nashville, a 4-4-2 [shape] … But we are focused on us. We just need to continue playing the way we played versus Nashville.”

For the Rapids, the one remaining constant from that Oct. 2018 game is Cole Bassett. The Colorado midfielder, just 17 at the time, came on as a late sub in that match. He’ll likely start on Saturday following his Man of the Match performance in the Rapids’ 1-0 loss to Houston last weekend.


The Rapids’ first-year head coach, Chris Armas, spoke flatteringly of LAFC when he met with the media this week. “We look at these games as tests, to see where you’re at,” said Armas, who was hired in November 2023. “And when you play a team like LAFC, they’ll tell you exactly where you’re at. Top team. Full of a bunch of quality … This is why we’re in this business. To play against the best.”

Armas referred to LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo, assistant coach Ante Razov, and Co-President and GM John Thorrington as “three of the best teammates I had in my career.” 

Armas, 51, played with Thorrington on the Chicago Fire in the mid-2000s. Armas and Razov were roommates in 1996 and 1997 when both played for the Galaxy, and for the next seven seasons with the Fire, as well. 

Cherundolo smiled broadly when Armas’ name came up on Thursday. When they played together on the U.S. Men’s National Team, Armas suffered an injury right before the 2002 World Cup, then current Galaxy coach (and fellow USMNT alumnus) Greg Vanney got hurt, too. “Vanney was Chris's replacement, and I was Greg Vanney's replacement,” Cherundolo explained. “And we play Galaxy a week from Saturday. So— pretty full circle.”

Armas coached Aaron Long when the LAFC defender played for New York Red Bulls. As an assistant under then-coach Jesse Marsch, Armas was instrumental in changing Long from a reserve midfielder to a dominant center back. “I love Aaron,” Armas said. “I was part of a coaching staff that saw something in him that not a lot of people did. To see his journey— you talk about a success story … his will to succeed and become who he is now, that’s Aaron Long.”

Cherundolo returned the praise Armas sent LAFC’s way. “I know Chris is an excellent leader, a very bright guy, and was an awesome teammate.” The 2024 Rapids, Cherundolo added, are a reflection of their new head coach. “It's a team that physically works hard. They run all day, trying to make compact lines and make other teams’ lives difficult.”


Asked to explain the difference between the LAFC side that netted five goals last weekend (and could have scored more) and the one that was held scoreless in the previous three games, Bogusz said, “I think the main thing was we were very organized in the way we press and how we defend. We don't press all the time. Sometimes we just set up deeper, and wait for them. That's why we recovered a lot of balls and had a lot of [scoring] opportunities. That was the biggest difference from the last game in Minnesota.”

Cherundolo concurred, adding: “What I don't want to see is what we saw against Kansas City [in a 0-0 draw on March 9] and in Minnesota … getting stuck in no man's land and sort of in between and not really sure what we're doing, whether we’re pressing or we're kind of back. That's when your lines get stretched.

“What I'm hoping for is what I thought we did very well in ‘22 and ’23: making good decisions, [whether] we are collectively going and pressing, or we’re compact and dropping back a little deeper.”

Maxime Chanot NYCFC capt


One player who can communicate the group’s intentions in real-time, Cherundolo added, is 34-year-old center back Maxime Chanot, who signed with LAFC this week after years of success in MLS and Europe. “He is a winner,” Cherundolo said. “He's proven winner in this league and elsewhere and he's an experienced center back and a player with a voice. So certainly something we were hoping to add to the group and we're excited about his arrival.”

Eddie Segura, who until Chanot’s signing had been LAFC’s only experienced center back behind starters Long and Jesús Murillo, said that Chanot “adds a lot of value and experience to our club with his knowledge of the league. I'm personally very happy to have him and happy to be able to compete with very talented defenders like him … We'll welcome him with open arms and look forward to seeing his hunger to compete.”


  • Segura and midfielder Eduard Atuesta are the only players on LAFC’s roster who were part of the Black & Gold’s first two glittering seasons in 2018 and 2019. “Yeah, there is that the responsibility of carrying that identity,” said Segura, who missed the 2023 season due to injury. “But I think more importantly, everyone on the team does that … This family welcomed me with open arms [in 2018]. We try to replicate that experience for everyone that comes … and keep that status alive.”
  • A smiling Bogusz said he was watching and celebrating when his home country, Poland, qualified for the 2024 UEFA Euros by beating Wales in a penalty shootout on Tuesday. “Of course we were watching here. Very happy for this team.”
  • MLS’ first-choice referees will return to the field this weekend after their union came to terms with the league. “I think it's great that everybody was able to come to an agreement,” Cherundolo said, “Stability in that portion of our league, and game, is always important. It's maybe the hardest job out there.”
  • The last time LAFC scored a goal in Colorado was November 7, 2021. It was a Decision Day match that could have given LAFC the Western Conference’s final playoff spot if the team hadn’t suffered a 5-2 loss. That game proved to be the last one LAFC played before Cherundolo was hired as head coach.
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