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    LAFC hosts St. Louis City FC in potential 6-point game
    • July 12, 2023

    The Los Angeles Football Club has roughed up plenty of opponents since debuting in Major League Soccer.

    But no one has had a tougher time against LAFC than those that joined MLS after the Black & Gold did in 2018.

    In six meetings against most of the league’s subsequent expansion teams, LAFC has won each time, outscoring Cincinnati, Miami, Austin and Charlotte by a 14-1 margin. LAFC did not play Nashville in 2020.

    Looking for lucky number seven, LAFC hosts the new kid on the block, Western Conference leader St. Louis City SC, on Wednesday at BMO Stadium.

    Expansion teams have struggled against defending MLS Cup champions, winning four times since 2010, including twice last year when Charlotte beat New York City.

    Five points behind St. Louis, LAFC (9-6-6, 33 points) can create momentum or make things harder on itself heading into the All-Star game and Leagues Cup.

    “We’re excited to have an expansion team come to L.A.,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. “St. Louis has been very good this year. Hats off to them and their work on and off the field. They have created an identity and a way of playing and they have stuck to it. I think that kind of sums up their success.”

    Modeled on the Red Bulls system, reliant on high pressing, effusive energy and a direct attack, St. Louis (12-7-2, 38 points), managed by South African coach Bradley Carnell, has scored 40 goals – 10 more than LAFC.

    “They don’t wait to attack you,” LAFC midfielder Ilie Sanchez said. “They go through the middle. They go straight to goal. Call it whatever you want. They just have one goal in mind and that’s the opponent’s goal. And on top of that, they have quality players that can execute that style of play, that game model.

    “They are ruthless and I think that’s what’s working for them to be on top of the table.”

    Currently riding a third winning streak of at least three matches, St. Louis is the first MLS expansion team since 2000 to do so in its inaugural season.

    The club is tied atop MLS with 13 different goal scorers, including a team-leading eight by Nicholas Gioacchini.

    Eighteen of LAFC’s 30 league goals have come courtesy of Denis Bouanga and Carlos Vela, with the rest spread among eight others.

    LAFC’s scoring is less balanced than previous years because it has not been as good as it could be around the goal considering the chances it creates.

    However, Cherundolo continues to express confidence that his players are close to finding their collective goal-scoring form.

    LAFC could climb within two points of the conference lead, remain where it is with a draw, or fall eight points behind with a dozen regular-season games remaining.

    Heading into the midweek matchday, which was postponed from May 31 to accommodate the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final, eight points is the difference between LAFC sitting where it is, third in the West, or riding the playoff line.

    According to LAFC, though, it’s too early to ponder a so-called six-point game, which entails an opportunity to grab three for yourself and, at the same time, deny the opposition.

    “For us,” Sanchez said, “it’s three very important points at this time of the season.”


    When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

    Where: BMO Stadium

    TV/Radio: Apple TV+ (MLS Season Pass)/710 AM, 980 AM

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    ​ Orange County Register