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The month ahead: LAFC face very light June schedule

What’s on tap for MLS’s top team?

MLS: Montreal Impact at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club had another unbeaten month in May, and remain atop the MLS standings through the first three months of the season. Next month is upon us, so what’s coming up in June?

To put it succinctly: Possibly not a lot of games!

Saturday, June 1: at Portland Timbers

LAFC effectively conclude the halfway point of the season (they’ll be just short of playing exactly half of their regular-season games) with one of possibly the biggest games of the season. LAFC will be the road team for the Timbers’ first home game of 2019.

LAFC already feel like they have a rivalry against the Timbers, after two feisty regular-season matches last year, an epic Open Cup win by LAFC that featured both a formal protest by Portland after the fact and an LAFC player accusing a Timbers player of racism, and the Timbers responding very badly. This season, LAFC crushed Portland 4-1 at The Banc in the second game, but the black-and-gold faltered last year at Providence Park.

Portland were terrible in their first six games but have been substantially better the last six, and tend to play well at home. LAFC could keep rolling and crush Portland, but chances are this will be a battle, and getting a win or a draw is far from a sure thing here. It’s an excellent test for LAFC.

Tues-Weds, June 11-12: TBD

The U.S. Open Cup! LAFC’s schedule looks a little deceiving because they only have two league games, but they are guaranteed one U.S. Open Cup match, as they’ll enter the competition in the fourth round on June 11 or 12. We’ll find out the opponent on Thursday when the draw takes place.

Expect LAFC to go for this title again this year. Last season, they fell in a semifinal penalty shootout to eventual champ Houston Dynamo. With it being a one-and-done competition, you can’t have an off day and you never know what will happen, but expect Bob Bradley to use a fairly strong lineup given the big gap in the schedule with some reserves mixed in, especially considering players will be out on international duty.

IF (still an if until the game is played) LAFC win this fourth-round Open Cup game, they’ll play the Round of 16 game, likely the following week.

Friday, June 28: At Colorado Rapids

The final game for the month will be back in league play, the first meeting of the season against the Rapids. The Rapids have been the worst team in MLS this season, by a long shot, but are coming off two straight wins so they may be better yet in a month’s time, and will probably be a bigger test than initially expected. That said, this is definitely a winnable game for a team going for the Supporters’ Shield, especially in a light month schedule-wise.

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So, to recap: LAFC are guaranteed to play three games in June — at Portland this weekend in league play, against TBD in the Open Cup on June 11-12, and at Colorado on June 28. They can play a maximum of four competitive games, if they win the Open Cup fourth-round game, they’ll also play the Round of 16 match in June. Given they’ve played five games each in their first three months, three games would be very light, or four games would be just under the pace they’ve had, which isn’t such a drop-off after all. But it is safe to say that it will be a bit of a different month for the black-and-gold, and we’ll see how they navigate the next slate of games.

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