LAFC weather adversity, show "character" to move atop West following 2-0 win at Columbus

There was adversity aplenty for LAFC in their road match against the Columbus Crew Saturday.

There was the long cross-country travel, steamy weather conditions in Columbus that led to more than four hours of total weather delays, match congestion that forced LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo to juggle his lineup.

But LAFC, who came to Field off consecutive league defeats and were winless in their last three, weathered all that adversity to defeat the Crew, 2-0, and remain atop the Western Conference standings. 

“Taking all that into consideration, a fantastic effort from the group, very proud of the boys,” Cherundolo said. “We had a little different tactical approach tonight to deal with weather and a lot of congested schedule, a lot of games at the moment, and it worked.”

LAFC played on Wednesday — a 2-1 home loss to Austin FC — and meet the LA Galaxy in the Round of 16 of the US Open Cup this Wednesday. 

As such, Cherundolo carefully managed minutes on Saturday, electing to bring Carlos Vela, Brian Rodriguez and Jose Cifuentes off the bench after halftime. 

“We wanted to split time between our five attackers to get fresh legs out there for exactly those moments when you are sitting a little deeper and defending a deeper block, you need some explosiveness in the offensive end and Carlos gave us exactly that,” Cherundolo said. "His ability to finish speaks for itself, the amount of goals he’s scored.”

Vela added one more to his total, his sixth of the season came 17 minutes after entering as a halftime sub. And Cifuentes, who entered just past the hour mark, doubled LAFC’s advantage in the 73rd minute.

“It’s a great satisfaction to be able to score,” Cifuentes said. “It seemed to be a game that wasn’t going to be played because of the weather, so I would point to the performance more than the goal I scored.”

The win, LAFC's first in MLS play since a 2-0 victory over Minnesota United at Banc of California Stadium on May 1, extended their lead atop the Western Conference to three points over Austin FC ahead of Sunday’s 10 matches.  

“We very much felt the effects of the weather,” Rodriguez said. “Waiting for the game was a key part, but as I said, this team has character and knew how to answer to that adversity and I’m very happy for the team”