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The month ahead: Checking out LAFC’s September schedule

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A busy month forms the bulk of the black-and-gold homestretch.

MLS: LAFC Culinary Tour Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club is now on the homestretch of their 2019 MLS regular season, with just over a month in the slate. With that, let’s dive right in on what will be a fairly busy September for the black-and-gold.

Sunday, September 1 - vs. Minnesota United

Believe it or not, the first game of the month begins a stretch of four straight in which LAFC play opposition they haven’t yet faced this season. Up first, Minnesota United, coming off a loss in the U.S. Open Cup final on Tuesday in Atlanta. That loss could send them into a funk, or it could inspire them to redouble their efforts in league play, as they seek their first MLS playoffs berth.

Remember, this Loons team completely blew away LAFC in Minnesota last year, a truly perplexing 5-1 rout. LAFC are much better this year, but so are Minnesota, so we’ll see what happens.

Saturday, September 7 - at Orlando City

Next up, LAFC take on another improved side from 2018, in Orlando City, and this will be their first trip to Florida for a game. Orlando have the same coach from the teams’ last meeting, in James O’Connor, and they have Nani and an improved (though not a lockdown) defense.

The big question for this one is seeing who will be available for LAFC, with five players so far called up for the September FIFA window — Walker Zimmerman, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, Brian Rodriguez and Diego Palacios. Three of those players are starters, and losing three players from the team’s spine is concerning, and the only player who might be available for the Orlando game is Palacios, who plays for Ecuador on Sept. 5 and could have his immigration paperwork wrapped up by this game. We’ve seen some good and some bad of LAFC rotating this season, but they’ve looked better and better with changes as the season has progressed, and in what’s likely to be a steamy night in Orlando, we’ll see if the rest of the group can keep a 100% record against the Lions.

Saturday, September 14 - at Philadelphia Union

The next Eastern Time Zone trip comes a week later, as LAFC take on perhaps the most improved side in 2019 in the Philadelphia Union. They have Carlos Vela’s former Mexico teammate Marco Fabian and a few newish forwards, but with much of the same side as last year, Jim Curtin has honed a playing style that is pragmatic but capable of having fun, something not seen in Philly ever for the club.

The Union have been in first place in the East most of the season, although now they’re in a three-way race with Atlanta United and New York City FC for that supremacy. LAFC are still the better team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be a game in which two teams play very similarly and the one that executes better wins. Should be a good one.

Saturday, September 21 - vs. Toronto FC

LAFC return home next to host Toronto FC for the first time. Much like 2018, this year’s edition of TFC is a true enigma, capable of playing great and terribly, sometimes in the same game.

With Sebastian Giovinco gone they have Alejandro Pozuelo, not the same kind of player but a playmaker who can do great things. However, he was just benched to try and shake things up and Toronto won, so we’ll see if TFC are in a good spot or lurching through another crisis in a few weeks’ time. Honestly, it’s really tough to predict what they’ll do next, they could be the hottest team in MLS or a side basically out of the playoffs despite their talent level when this game comes around. We’ll see!

Wednesday, September 25 - vs. Houston Dynamo

The run of new opponents ends with this game, as LAFC played the Dynamo to a shock (it was!) 2-0 win on less than 48 hours’ rest earlier this summer. Since then, Houston have fired Wilmer Cabrera as head coach, and interim boss Davy Arnaud has led his side to a 0-1-1 record so far.

Unless they win all their games coming up to this game, the Dynamo are out of the playoffs. Their players will be playing for their jobs. Beyond that, there won’t be much. LAFC often struggle against these kind of opponents, but have pulled out narrow-ish wins nonetheless. That seems a safe bet here, but we’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, September 29 - at Minnesota United

The month is bookended by Minnesota United, as the return fixture comes, with LAFC visiting their new stadium for the first time. Will there be better mojo at the new place for the black-and-gold? Will both teams have wrapped up their regular-season objectives (LAFC the Supporters’ Shield, Minnesota a playoff place) by the time this game happens? Will that impact the players used in any way? Can LAFC win in Minnesota for the first time? This will be LAFC’s final road game of 2019, so we’ll see how they wrap the slate for the year.

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After this, October, with just one regular-season game and then, the playoffs! The season may be mostly over, but there are a lot of big games yet to come for LAFC.

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