Steve Cherundolo knows squirrels.
During his playing days in Germany, the Los Angeles Football Club head coach lived in a house in Hannover with a walnut tree in the garden.
“I watched the squirrels come and go every day on the patio to the tree and then hide (nuts) all over the yard and basically lose them,” Cherundolo said. “We would find them in every corner of our garden. So yes, I am fully aware of their activity.
The abandonment of the last two Major League Soccer games with a pair to go before the start of a three-week FIFA international window on May 30 has Cherundolo thinking about the creatures of the woods ahead of LAFC’s departure for a Saturday afternoon game in Ohio against the Columbus Crew
“You try to be a squirrel and add as many nuts as you can right now,” Cherundolo said. “That’s what we do to prepare for winter. In our case, it’s summer and MLS and that’s what we’re trying to do. It doesn’t matter against whom.
After some productive early searches, the pressure on roster depth and the club’s compact schedule has seen LAFC collect just four points from a possible 12 in May so far.
The busiest month of the year – six MLS games, a US Open Cup victory against Portland and another knockout match on the 25th against the Galaxy – neutralized depth as a weapon for the Cherundolo side .
“People are getting hurt,” said forward Danny Musovski, who got his first MLS start in Wednesday’s 2-1 home loss to Austin FC. “It’s just difficult for the group. Everyone must step up. That’s why we have 30 guys on the roster, basically, if unfortunate things happen like injuries.
Midfielder Latif Blessing is the latest casualty with right knee and ankle issues. The Ghanaian will be out this weekend, as will defender Ryan Hollingshead, who was forced off the pitch in LAFC’s lackluster 2-0 loss in Colorado.
However, centre-back Jesus Murillo returned on Wednesday, as did winger Brian Rodriguez, who looked strong after a month-long injury.
For healthy players like Musovski, a goal-hungry forward from Las Vegas, the busy streak produced opportunities but not enough capitalizing moments.
“We press well and win balls in the right places but sometimes it just doesn’t happen and then it feels like at the other end they have half a chance and capitalize on one of our mistakes and score a goal,” he said. “It’s kind of the way football is sometimes, but hopefully the tide will turn and we’ll get some rebounds on our way and get up in the game.”
Like a squirrel finding a nut, some would say.
LAFC (7-3-2, 23 points) has its next chance against the Crew (3-4-4, 13 points).
The previous two times the franchises have met, LAFC have come away with shutout wins, the last in 2019 at Historic Crew Stadium.
The crew moved from MLS’s first football-specific stadium to Lower.com Field last July.
With just one win in their last eight games, the 2008 and 2020 MLS champions are off to the fourth-worst start in franchise history.
“If it’s our only patch of games where we’re a little lean for the whole season, then I think that’s fine,” Cherundolo said. “There are always those moments every season and we get through that and there are three more games and we will be good for that streak and push hard until the break.”
LAFC at COLUMBUS CREW
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Or: Lower.com Field, Columbus, Ohio
TV/Radio: TUDN, UniMás, Twitter / 710 AM, 980 AM