LAFC reside atop the Supporters' Shield standings, but the Black & Gold must navigate some adversity heading into Week 14's home match against the San Jose Earthquakes (6 pm ET | UniMas, TUDN, Twitter).
They're coming off a 3-1 defeat Wednesday to the LA Galaxy, their El Trafico rivals, in the US Open Cup's Round of 16. It was a game where superstar attacker Carlos Vela exited early with a quad injury, one first-year manager Steve Cherundolo said will keep him out and he believes to be "nothing serious."
Starting center back Jesus David Murillo will also miss Saturday's contest due to yellow card accumulation, and left back Diego Palacios is listed as 'out' on their availability report with a head injury.
"Everybody else is ready to go after our disappointing exit in the Open Cup," Cherundolo said. "But this is MLS, it’s a different competition, different opponent, completely different scenario for tomorrow and we have prepared for that and we’re ready and looking forward to it."
Midfielder Kellyn Acosta said Saturday's match represents a chance for LAFC to rekindle the form that has them on a league-high 26 points (8W-3L-2D record). Before last weekend's 2-0 win at the Columbus Crew, they had gone three games without a win.
"It’s another opportunity for us to continue on the right path, obviously coming off a tough last couple days," Acosta said. "We want to bounce back. We’re playing at home against a good San Jose side and it’s going to be a tough matchup. But I think the guys, we got our bodies back, we recovered well and we’ll be ready for [Saturday].
"It’s a good opportunity for us to be back where we want to be. Right now we’re going on the right path with the league, and [Saturday's] another test for us. San Jose’s a good side, they’re not going to be a team that’s going to be falling over. They’re a team that’s been scoring a lot of goals and winning some matches. So for us, it’s to get back on track and go into the break on a high note."
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A positive result would give LAFC some momentum entering June's international break, which Cherundolo said will allow their roster to regain full strength.
With a full complement of players available, Cherundolo is confident LAFC should be the team everyone's chasing.
"What we’re mostly looking forward to after this break, to get us set up for the summer months, is getting everybody healthy," Cherundolo said. "So after the break, our first game is against Seattle. We are hopeful that everybody will be on board, our roster will be full, and we are very pleased with our roster when we’re healthy. So I’m looking forward to that team, having everybody available."