COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Six years into its existence, LAFC is on the doorstep of history.
Against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, the club will attempt to become the fourth team to repeat as MLS Cup champions -- and first to complete the back-to-back with a true road game.
The difficulty of such an accomplishment isn't lost on second-year coach Steve Cherundolo.
"Roster building and rules and regulations make it difficult to kind of roll the same team back out," Cherundolo said during a news conference Friday. "And there's 29 teams in our league now and all very competitive with a lot of good organizations and teams. It just makes it hard to win again."
LAFC has returned to the league's biggest stage despite a demanding schedule that has seen the club play 52 matches across multiple competitions, including a run to the Concacaf Champions League final. Last year, when Cherundolo guided LAFC to the club's first MLS Cup, the team played just 41 games.
Given the additional challenges the team has had to navigate, it makes this possibly the most unlikely repeat in league history.
Even so, Cherundolo said any historical context shouldn't be used to set expectations for Saturday's final.
"It's one game and we've approached that game like every other and try to get through the first half. That's our first objective and that's the mentality our players have."
The Crew are chasing history of their own. A win would secure their third MLS Cup, breaking a tie for No. 3 on the league's all-time list. It's a possibility coach Wilfried Nancy felt more confident was obtainable starting July 31, when the team beat Club America at home, 4-1, in the Leagues Cup group stage.
"My staff, we felt that we were ahead [at the end in preseason], but I would say the game against Club America, I saw something," Nancy said.
"Because as you know, Club America, this is really good club and we knew that everybody was waiting for this game. But my players stood up the way we want to do it. So, I would say this game could have been the trigger to move forward."
Over the last two months, the Crew took things to another level and have lost just once of their past 11 games, with seven wins and three draws. They've won three straight in the playoffs, capped by a 3-2 comeback win against rival FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference final.