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The secret behind LAFC reaching the 2022 MLS Cup final

After failing to reach the MLS Cup final in their first four seasons, Los Angeles FC have learned from their mistakes.

Oct 30, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) stands on the pitch during the first half against the Austin FC during the conference finals for the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin KuoUSA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer trophy arrived at Los Angeles Union Station on Wednesday morning ahead of the MLS Cup final between Los Angeles FC and the Philadelphia Union. For the first time since 2003, the top seeds from each conference will play against each other in the championship decider, which takes place at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday.

The addition of experienced MLS players

“A pleasure to be here with you all during this exciting week as we are preparing to host arguably the biggest game in LAFC’s history. Much has been made of the format that we have [in MLS] in the playoffs. The fact that this is what people are saying, but I would agree that the two best teams facing off in the final is a rarity speaks to the system that we have in the playoffs,” said LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington on Wednesday morning.

LAFC has been knocking on the door of reaching the final and winning the MLS Cup since making their debut in the league in 2018. The ‘Black & Gold’ lost in 2019 in the Western Conference final against the Seattle Sounders and this year they learned from their past mistakes and added some experienced MLS players to make the group stronger, such as Ilie Sánchez, Kellyn Acosta, Maxime Crépeau and Ryan Hollingshead.

I think that contrary to years past, we looked at why we felt like we had come up a bit short, despite having an incredibly talented group of players. In some of the years we had an incredible run throughout the season and what we did effectively this year is that we added robustness to the group,” said Thorrington.

“Now we know with the coming years the challenges and the travails of a long MLS season. So what we wanted to do is to make sure we equipped coaches with a group of players that we felt could be pressure tested and come through the other side victorious,” he added.

Under first-time MLS coach Steve Cherundolo, LAFC have managed to control games more when they are ahead on the scoreboard. The ‘Black & Gold’ have also learned to never give up and make a late push to tie or win the game.


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