A Date with Destiny

Written by on December 8, 2023

Written By: Floyd Nkanyane


2023 has dished the longest MLS season in its 30 years of history and it will be defending champions LAFC taking on Colombus Crew on Saturday in Ohio for the title.

The Black and Gold of LA are determined to make it back to back MLS titles as it was evident in their style of play against the U.S. Open Cup champions Houston Dynamo and been the 2nd semi-final of the play-offs, both teams were motivated by the fact that the recently crowned MLS Supporters’ Shield Champions Cincinnati FC lost the Eastern Conference final to Colombus Crew.

LAFC are favourites to retain the title but might need to switch up their play from the Clean-Sheeted Defensive style to High-Pressure Attacking football because Colombus Crew on the other hand have a never-die spirit that saw them earn 3 goals in the last 45 mins of the game including 30mins of extra time against Cincinnati.


Here are the 3 factors that could shape the match:

  1. LAFC Clean-Sheet style of play

The Champions have come under scrutiny for their approach in the play-offs that has seen them have less of the ball but outshoot and outscore the opposition.

Just like the win in Seattle against the Sounders and the 2-0 victory over Houston Dynamo, LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo must be content to see his side cede possession. I mean take a look at the stats against Houston, LAFC made good use of the time it did have with the ball, outshooting Houston 18-10 and earning 2 goals despite having 29% of the ball. As a result, LAFC keeper Maxime Crepeau needed just five saves to record his third consecutive playoff shutout, running his shutout streak to 320 minutes this postseason. Impressive isn’t? Well, it gets better.

For Cherundolo, he is unbeaten in seven MLS playoff games after the win. He is also just the third head coach in MLS history to take a team to the MLS Cup final in his first two seasons, after D.C. United’s Bruce Arena, who did it in the league’s first two campaigns. Seattle’s Brian Schmetzer also accomplished the feat in 2016-17.

  1. The Spirit of the Crew from Hell

Fresh from their first-ever postseason Hell is Real match, Columbus went on the road and defeated Supporters’ Shield winner, FC Cincinnati, 3-2 in overtime of the Eastern Conference Final, thanks once again to Christian Ramirez.

A Crew hero, Ramirez came through for the Crew, scoring the game-winning goal right in front of the net late in the second overtime period. This comes one week after Ramirez scored the first goal in overtime in the Crew’s 2-0 victory against Orlando City in the Eastern Conference semi-final and five days after welcoming his third child. “Emotional week. I’m just thankful for all the help from my family. Letting me just try to live this week as a normal week, get enough sleep,” Ramirez said. “We live one more week, one more game to come.”


  1. Biggest Weekend for LA

This is arguably the biggest sporting weekend for the City of Angels as both LAFC and the LA Lakers (NBA) will be contesting cup finals away from home this weekend. Carlos Vela & Co. will be facing 2 time MLS champions Colombus Crew at the Lower.com Field in Ohio while Lebron James & Co. have to be up to speed in Sin City for their NBA cup Final if they are to keep up with the boys from Indiana, who outpaced Giannis Antetokounmpos Milwaukee Bucks.


With that been said, both teams have a short window to acknowledge their Conference Championship wins before preparing for the  MLS Cup final and LAFC defender Giorgio Chiellini has hinted in an interview with the Atlantic, this could be his last game.  “I don’t know, to be honest. The club is very open to me, and that’s important to me. I have to talk with the family and understand our goals. But I’ll stay in Los Angeles until June next year for sure. We’ll see.” The Italian gave an honest response when asked about working for Juventus. “Yeah. I don’t want to be a liar — in my future, I see Juventus. I don’t know in what position, but it’s somewhere where I have spent almost half of my life. I’m still really connected to every one of them and I’m very happy they’re doing a good season. I’m looking forward to getting back to the stadium and watching them over the Christmas break, but I’m in no rush. I’m enjoying my life here with my family.”


The Crew will host the MLS Cup Final at 11 p.m. (SAST) Saturday 9/12/2023 against Los Angeles FC at the Lower.com Field in Ohio.


My Prediction: LAFC to retain the title 3-1

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