LAFC is prepared for the CONCACAF Champions League

On March 4, 2023, at BMO Stadium, during the second half of LAFC's MLS season opening, Kwadwo Opoku celebrates with player Carlos Vela. Image source: Raul Romero Jr./ Orange County Register

LAFC is prepared for the CONCACAF Champions League

Image source: LAFC

In the initial leg of a Round of 16 matches, the Black & Gold take on a tenacious LD Alajuelense club on Thursday in Costa Rica.

It’s a chance for Steve Cherundolo. A dream and a pleasant memory for Mahal Opoku.

The main objective of Carlos Vela’s legacy-building goals for 2023.

The Los Angeles Football Club’s second appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday night outside of San Jose should keep everyone in Costa Rica glued to their seats.

Alajuelense won the Liga FPD championship in 2022, and under Argentine head coach Andrés Carevic, they were admitted to CONCACAF. With 11 games remaining in its current campaign, the red-and-black team leads the Costa Rican league with an 8-1-2 record, scoring 31 goals and allowing just eight.

Image source: The Sun

LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo noted, “Alajuelense is a very strong squad. “In my opinion, they are a well-trained team with a distinct sense of how to play. They have a very specific plan for what they would like to defend, score goals, and win games. We anticipate a challenging game because they have already accomplished this in their local league this season. We are not the favorites, in my opinion.

Less than a week ago, LAFC defeated the Portland Timbers at home to open the season. Alajuelense may have a “little advantage” over LAFC since “they’re already in pace and have endurance in their legs,” Cherundolo acknowledged after one competitive game. However, we are undoubtedly not far off.

LAFC cannot afford to participate in a tournament that is hard to win and inconsistent in its success.

Ilie Sanchez, a midfielder for LAFC, pointed to the significant international competition early in its calendar. In 2019, Sanchez started six CONCACAF games and scored twice for Kansas City. He added, “we’ve done a really conscious and powerful preseason to be able to prepare ready for the initial games of our season.”

In preparation for a flurry of games from March to May, starting with the two-leg Champs League Round of 16 matchups against Alajuelense, Cherundolo & his coaching team made sure the players were ready.

Image source: USA Today

According to Cherundolo, players may avoid wasting training sessions during the offseason and opportunities to get healthy by being reminded of what might happen to them. “I think we did a terrific job of it, and the players were very conscious and determined to make the most of days of training and friendly games,” said the coach.

After reaching the final Champions League in 2020 and losing to Tigres UANL of Liga MX, LAFC raised the bar.

LAFC played among its most famous games under the guidance of then-head coach Bob Bradley on the way to the title game, which was played on a neutral venue in Orlando because of the epidemic.

Opoku’s first goal for the team was a “wonderful recollection,” according to him.

Vela joined Diego Palacios, Jesus Murillo, and the late Diego Rossi on the tournament’s winning team by playing some of his finest games with Los Angeles while serving as captain. Vela’s efforts created hardships for four Mexican opponents.

Los Angeles FC defeats the Revolution 4-0 on the road, ending their unbeaten start.

LAFC's Denis Bouanga, at right earlier this month, scored twice Sunday in a 4-0 victory over the visiting New England Revolution.
© Jae C. Hong

In the match on Sunday night at BMO Stadium, both the Revolutionary and the defending MLS Championship winner Los Angeles FC omitted their top players from the starting lineup. LAFC demonstrated that it might not require Carlos Vela to be successful by winning 4-0. The Revolution was competitive without Carles Gil for most of the game, but it now appears they won’t advance very far without him.

During Thursday night’s contest in Costa Rica, LAFC (2-0-0, 6 points) players Vela and Giorgio Chiellini were simply relaxing. Gil was nursing a strained leg muscle when he went down in stoppage time, casting doubt on his fitness to play in the Revolution’s upcoming match against Nashville SC on Saturday.

The Revolution (2-1-0, 6 points) were behind 1-0 after a penalty kick by Denis Bouanga in the 14th minute when Gil entered the game. The Revolution’s predicament was not bad because Gustavo Bou, who was marking his season debut, filled Gil’s playwriting position.

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