Giorgio Chiellini has discovered a new love for football with Los Angeles FC as the Italian centre-back aims to guide his side to a second straight MLS Cup triumph.
The Columbus Crew will prove the final obstacle on Saturday in LAFC’s quest to go back-to-back with MLS Cup successes, having defeated the Philadelphia Union on penalties in last season’s final.
Chiellini has lifted nine Serie A titles and helped Italy win Euro 2020, but the hunger remains for the 39-year-old to add another success in the United States to his trophy-filled cabinet.
“I’m enjoying every day I spend here – training and everything,” the former Juventus defender, who joined LAFC in 2022, told Stats Perform.
“It’s my life. I love what I do. I’ve watched more MLS games this year and a half than most of my team-mates in their career and I love that.
“But it’s not something I do for me. It’s something normal. It’s my way of life, this job, I live this life. I’m enjoying it a lot and there’s no heavy situation for me about this stuff, I just enjoy it and it’s very fun.”
Chiellini created the opening goal as Los Angeles booked their place in the MLS Cup Final with a 2-0 win over Houston Dynamo, with his flick-on from a corner-kick finding Ryan Hollingshead.
Their final challenge comes against the Crew in what will be the 53rd game of the season for Steve Cherundolo’s LAFC, who were knocked out of the Leagues Cup in the quarter-final and suffered CONCACAF Champions League final heartbreak against Mexico’s Club Leon.
Columbus’ Lower.com Field hosts the MLS Cup showpiece, offering Wilfried Nancy’s men an edge of home advantage, but Chiellini fancies Los Angeles’ chances after two hard-fought campaigns.
It all comes down to this.
Crew. LAFC. MLS Cup. December 9. pic.twitter.com/cOajkm9L75
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 3, 2023
“We are so happy because last year was a different journey,” the veteran centre-back continued. “We were top of the league all season, playoffs for just three games before the World Cup. That was easier.
“We skipped the first round. We played all the games at home and it was very different. This year we pushed harder until June because of the CONCACAF Champions League where we lost the final.
“We spent a lot of energy on that, we had some injuries, some periods where we were not so focused.
“But we arrived in good condition for the playoff in the third game [against Houston]. We fought till the end for the second [goal] that I think we deserved for what we showed during the season.
“We won in Vancouver, we won in Seattle, and now to lift the cup, we have to win in Columbus, and we know how hard it will be, but we are very happy to be here.
“We respect that team a lot and the way they play, that style of play, the players, but for sure we want to go there and try to go as far as possible to win.”
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