Co-President John Thorrington and sophomore coach Steve Cherundolo offered their remarks before the team’s first game against the LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl. Both coach and GM seemingly agreed that yesterday’s successes are an unreliable way to predict what will happen to LAFC this season.
“We won the trophies that mattered the most.”
When asked if he felt snubbed after missing the title of Sporting Executive of the Year to Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, or any front office award by the league, John quickly acknowledged that he and his club had won the trophies which mattered the most, the last one in dramatic fashion against Tanner’s every team.
Personal accolades, he says, aren’t his or LAFC’s main goals, but rather to help the entire squad and coaching staff succeed. He says the focus from a first-year coach has changed, and with demanding, meaningful Concachamps games on deck earlier, the formula for roster success in Season 6 can’t and won’t be the same as in Season 5.
The roster for this year, he says, is pretty much done being built, with a focus on flexibility rather than a ton of depth, and ready for the season. However, he clarified that he’d continue to monitor the transfer market for more possible incoming moves. It’s hard to think LAFC won’t do that. But this club doesn’t mind being reactive, at least in a season that may stretch itself to 45–50 games. Suppose the idea is to model what happens in South American calendars. In that case, it’s expected that coaches will need more players to meet their scheduling obligations, forcing the league to consider reformulating its roster limitations to allow for a more free-market approach.
Expanded playoffs are partially due to competing priorities.
Thorrington knows the league is expanding, and as more teams join, there’s a growing need to allow for a more significant share of teams to host playoff games. All of that while making a new broadcasting partner happy. Teams on the fringe of qualifying or beginning play will be thrilled. Teams constantly atop the regular table may choose to feature b players midway through the season, giving the US Open Cup and the Leagues Cup more priority. Dominating has its perks: you have assured two final home games as the highest-seeded Conference team, and the right to host the MLS Cup is guaranteed with the Supporter’s Shield. It may not be enough, but it sure helps.
Can LAFC find ways to score without Arango?
That is the question for this team as we advance through the season. Chicho gave LAFC an identity when two of its icons were down: Vela lost to injury in 2021 after sitting out 2020. Meanwhile, Bob Bradley faced increased pressure to move on from the team. Fast-forward one year, Chicho, who had four goals in 5 El Traficos, is now away in Mexico, Bob is in his second year in Toronto, and newly crowned LAFC now looks for Denis Bouanga, Stipe Biuk, and Mahala Opoku to find the net behind Vela and Cifuentes which for the most part can be considered its most important possession and transfer bargaining chip.
Cover: Celso Oliveira / TMLS