MLS Weekend: LAFC puts unbeaten mark at risk in Nashville

Reigning Major League Soccer champion Los Angeles FC, this season's last unbeaten club, travels to Nashville SC on Saturday trying to overtake newcomer St. Louis City for the Western Conference lead.

Coach Steve Cherundolo's squad has five triumphs and two drawn in seven regular-season MLS matches, trailing only league-leader St. Louis (6-2-0) in the West standings.

LAFC stayed unbeaten with a 3-2 victory over the LA Galaxy last Sunday as Carlos Vela scored two goals and set up another, but Cherundolo didn't like much beyond the final score.

"We're ecstatic with our result, but our performance, no," he said, noting LAFC was "reactionary and disconnected at times" on the pitch."

"Our possession and our movement off the ball needs to improve," said Cherundolo. "Our quality of passing also needs to improve. These are all things we've highlighted in video work this week but also on the training pitch."

Nashville SC, which lost at home last year in splitting two matches with LAFC, is sparked by 2022 MLS Most Valuable Player Hany Mukhtar, a German midfielder who led the league with 23 goals last season.

Mukhtar, 28, has two goals and two assists so far this season for the yellow-clad club, which ranks sixth in the Eastern Conference at 3-3 with two drawn.

Nashville has scored only seven goals in eight matches but has surrendered only four.

"A team that's tough to beat," said Cherundolo. "They are a well-coached team, a very compact team, a team that prides itself on keeping clean sheets and conceding very few chances. "On the other hand, a team that doesn't score a lot. Does create some chances, extremely dangerous on set pieces, on the counter but certainly not a team who is creating a chance a minute. Especially in Nashville, a team that's extremely difficult to beat."

The match is the last for LAFC ahead of its Concacaf Champions League two-leg semifinal matchup against the Philadelphia Union, a rematch of last year's MLS Cup.

LAFC beat the Union on penalties after a 3-3 deadlock through extra time thanks to a late Gareth Bale equalizer for the California club.

St. Louis City will try to keep the top spot in the West with a victory at Colorado, which has managed only one win from eight matches, half of them drawn.

FC Cincinnati and New England are both 5-1 with two drawn to share the top record in the East division, the Revolution atop Cincinnati based on goal difference.

Both are home against Western Conference squads, with FC Cincinnati playing host to Portland (2-4-2 after the 4-1 win over Seattle) and New England entertaining winless Kansas City.

"I think every club has the same attitude right now, collect as many points as possible," Cherundolo said.


© Agence France-Presse

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