This is it. The time for LAFC to defeat old demons. The Black and Gold will host Austin FC on Sunday, both looking to advance to the MLS Cup final next Saturday. This will be the second time LAFC will play and host the Western Conference final, previously in 2019 when they lost against the Seattle Sounders 1-3. Back in 2019, LAFC went into the final in similar fashion as this year. They won the Supporters’ Shield, they beat the LA Galaxy in the playoffs, and they hosted the conference final. This year, the pressure is even bigger than back in 2019. The squad is there, the coaching staff is there, everything seems in line for LAFC to advance to their first MLS Cup final. Here are things the Black and Gold have to do to win on Sunday.
Play the way they know how
Against the LA Galaxy, the style of play from LAFC surprised me and a lot of fans. Most of us thought the team would go out there trying to be dominant, have possession and be the team with the initiative, specially being at home. The story was different. The team took a more defensive, reactionary style, giving up possession to their cross town rivals. That can’t happen against a team like Austin. Austin will take advantage of your reactionary style and will make you pay for your defensive mistakes, not like the Galaxy failed to do. LAFC were kind of fortunate the Galaxy’s defense has been terrible for years now, I’m not sure Austin will give you the advantages the Galaxy gave you.
Sebastian Drussi, that’s the name of the game. Austin’s chances of going through will be impacted on how good Driussi does. The Argentine is a clear candidate for MLS MVP and is a sensational playoff run. He’s scored three goals in two games in the playoffs, including a brace to rescue Austin against Real Salt Lake, after being 0-2 down in the first half. Steve Cherundolo will have to take Driussi in mind when coming up with the game plan for Sunday. Driussi already knows how to hurt LAFC ,as he and the Austin team beat LAFC both times during the regular season.
Mentality will make or break you
if there is one thing LAFC has lacked in many of the big games, specially in Knockout games, is mentality. These types of games can be decided on how prepared and strong this team is mentally. If for some reason this team finds itself down during the game, they cannot let themselves fall down. It has happened against Real Salt Lake, Seattle, Tigres, Galaxy, and many others. This is the game where we need players like Carlos Vela, Ilie Sanchez, Giorgio Chiellini to be leaders. To lift the team, shout at whoever needs to wake up and stay in the game. We can no longer see players with their heads down or even Cherundolo with his arms crossed quiet after conceding a goal. This game has change this team and this club, for better or worse. Failing to reach the final would mean the biggest failure in MLS history.