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Unbeaten Los Angeles FC out to keep Rapids winless

Mar 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles FC celebrates after a goal by forward Denis Bouanga (99) in the second half against the FC Dallas at BMO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For Los Angeles FC, this is no time to back off what has been a splendid start to the season.

The Colorado Rapids, meantime, desperately need a breakthrough result and could finally be hitting the accelerator.

The teams meet Saturday night at Commerce City, Colo.

LAFC (3-0-1, 10 points) has sustained the momentum from last year’s championship season.

“We’re playing to our potential,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. “It’s something that we try to achieve.”

But with a Champions League game on the docket against Vancouver on Wednesday night, Cherundolo is adamant that his team takes care of business this weekend.

“For us, the most important game in the world is Colorado right now because it’s our next game,” he said. “That’s how we approach it and that’s how we communicate it to the players. … They do a great job of being able to focus when we ask them to focus. And right now our focus is on Colorado.”

The Rapids (0-3-2, 2 points) continue to seek their first victory of the season, but should be in a better mindset after earning a road draw at Austin FC last weekend on Kevin Cabral’s late goal. The performance was much better than in previous outings.

“They start the game with that mentality and approach,” Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. “That’s the starting point for us. The tactics, the nuances, none of that matters if we don’t bring that sort of attitude.”

This will be Colorado’s third home game, and the club has scored just one goal on its home turf. Overall, the team has scored just twice in the five games, with Michael Barrios assisting on both.

“It’s nice to know what your role is on the team,” midfielder Connor Ronan said. “I feel like I’m getting a little bit more comfortable in that role now and I’d like to think I’m getting more confidence in that as the game is going.”

Ronan said playing alongside Brian Acosta, who tends to be more defensive-minded, provides an opportunity for him to move forward more often and take some chances that could lead to more offense.

Los Angeles FC has received a boost from Denis Bouanga, who has three goals in four games.

Since the 4-0 opening loss at Seattle, the Rapids have been solid defensively, allowing four goals in four games.

“They’re obviously a very competitive team, a tough team to beat,” Cherundolo said. “It’s a dangerous team to play. It’s a team that’s ready to win their first game of the season and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Seven of the all-time meetings between LAFC and Colorado have been won by the home team. LAFC picked up the lone road victory in 2018.

–Field Level Media