Steve Cherundolo’s comments after LAFC’s Campeones Cup loss to Tigres
The LAFC boss spoke to the media after a feisty game was concluded with a penalty shootout which saw Tigres take home the trophy.
LAFC boss Steve Cherundolo spoke to the media after LAFC’s heartbreaking loss in Campeones Cup to Mexican side Tigres, who dominated the ball during the game and won on penalties after 90 minutes. Cherundolo was upset yet focussed when questioned following the conclusion of the game, saying that his group of players “are still hungry for more”.
The game, if looked at on paper, was dominated by Tigres, who controlled the majority of possession as LAFC sat back and waited for the right moment to counter attack. Carlos Vela had something of a quiet night at BMO Stadium, but Denis Bouanga and Cristian Olivera provided a huge threat for Tigres to deal with from out wide.
As the clock ticked on frustrations grew and both teams saw red cards as large spaces allowed attackers in behind, causing defenders to make last-gasp challenges and bring down opposition players as they broke through. Bouanga then had a goal disallowed for, as put by Cherundolo, “the ball moving before the free-kick” being taken by Chiellini. The game, from that point on, descended into madness, with fights bursting out like a row of Hawaiian volcanoes.
LAFC trophy wins ‘only a matter of time’
After the game, the storyline was that LAFC had let another opportunity for silverware be lost, and Cherundolo defended his team, saying he was “proud” and that the performance “was very good” and “didn’t work out”.
”There’s nothing we’re doing wrong”, he continued, “there’s actually a hell of a lot of things we’re doing right, we’re in finals and we deserve to be there. It’s only a matter of time before we start winning them. We move on, we try to gather as many points as we can in MLS.”
LAFC went down to ten men after Palacios was sent off in the second half and from then the side were committed to defending, something Cherundolo noted as “intense” and “[defending] in a smart fashion... their tactical discipline and implementation of our plan was near perfect. I’m proud of the guys for sticking to the plan and I’m proud of the performance.”
‘My worst fears came true with CONCACAF referees’
On Palacios’ first yellow on the way to being sent off, Cherundolo said he wouldn’t talk about it, right before talking about it: “I’m not going to sit here and discuss what is and what isn’t. My only concern with referees and my only ask is that they are consistent. If he pulls yellows in the first minute he’s got to pull them the entire 90 minutes. I do have a problem when referees are now consistent and I think Drew [Fischer, the referee] was not consistent... my worst fears came true with CONCACAF referees, when referees change the results of games, which is what they’re not supposed to do. Sure enough, Drew and his crew came out tonight big and decided the game, which is a shame for fans and players because we didn’t deserve that.”
“There was a mutual respect there but also some tense fouls and intense players, both teams play hard. With exception of the first 15 minutes, we were quite happy with the performance... It was a fun match to watch, these matches make us better, I’d love to do more. We will try to repeat next season.”
MLS ‘not equipped enough’ for all competitions
“Throughout all the competitions we’ve been in this year, for any teams that are going to this next year, I can tell you the rules and regulations of MLS roster are not ample enough and we are not equipped enough for all these competitions”, said Cherundolo, who was asked about how LAFC have handled so many competitions, clearly a topic about which he has a strong opinion.
“We have done an incredible job to stay in all comps very late but our guys are depleted”, he continued, “our stadium officer is tired, everyone is tired. Maybe it’s too many games or maybe we don’t have enough players and I think moving forward to create a competitive advantage for MLS I think the owners and commissioners need to sit down and come up with solutions. The status quo does not work and I can tell you that is the opinion of other coaches as well.”
LAFC play Real Salt Lake on Sunday, October 1, 2023 with kick-off at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. “The loss “should piss us off more”, Cherundolo said when questioned about the mentality of the team, “we’ll be ready for Sunday.”