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LAFC coach after MLS defeat: “The team are mentally and physically fatigued”

Los Angeles FC lost their 2023 season MLS unbeaten record against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night with a brace from Cristian Espinoza.

May 6, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Timothy Tillman (on ground) tackles San Jose Earthquakes defender Miguel Trauco (right) during the first half at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Darren YamashitaUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

After making it through to the final of the 2023 Concacaf Champions League earlier this week, Los Angeles FC returned to the 2023 Major League Soccer season on Saturday night. The ‘Black & Gold’ faced the San José Earthquakes at Levi’s Stadium and saw their unbeaten record tumble as they lost 2-1 with a brace from Cristian Espinoza, who had just been named MLS Player of the Month.

The Argentine striker opened the scoring in the eighth minute with Denis Bouanga drawing LAFC level after half an hour. Late on in the game, Espinoza bagged a penalty that gave the San Jose side the win and saw LAFC’s unbeaten run come to an end after nine league games.

First loss of the MLS season

“I thought I saw the team mentally and physically fatigued in the final third, which is where the game goes down,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said after the defeat. “It was a game we shouldn’t have lost, but that’s the way it was because in those key moments we weren’t focused, we didn’t work hard and we didn’t follow the rules on defense and we got punished.”

I think our defensive work was not disciplined tonight and we’ll talk about that for the rest of the week,” added Cherundulo, who remains without defender Giorgio Chiellini as the Italian continues to recover from injury with no confirmed return to action date. LAFC remain in third position in the Western Conference and are tied on the same points as San Jose (18).