3252 Breakdown - Preseason Edition
It’s the preseason and the results mean absolutely nothing, but LAFC was given a massive task going against the defending champions of MLS, Atlanta United. I was at the game, so let’s do our first 3252 breakdown of the new year!
3 things that went well:
The offensive power that LAFC is known for is definitely coming back for the 2019 season. LAFC took 9 shots total and unbelievably, 8 of those were on target. When LAFC took over 10 shots last year, they ended up winning a vast majority of those games. Even with Atlanta playing with a hard backline, the Black and Gold were still able to create chances and opportunities to bring the game back after going down 2-0. LA also had 3 corner kicks, and while none of those ended up with a shot on target, it just means that they were always pushing the ball forward.
LAFC is trying new formations. The Black and Gold had a lot of different formations compared to last season. The defensive wings in the first half kept on moving forward when LAFC was attacking which allowed for more bodies in the final third of the pitch. This helped when Atlanta got the ball and LAFC would immediately press and get the ball back. In the second half, it was more of the same, but the midfield was able to keep it’s form throughout. It will be interesting to see how it gets tweaked as Diego Rossi, Mohamed El-Munir, and Danilo Silva start to get more playing time.
I really liked how the midfield looked throughout the game. Andre Horta has already shown that he has grown and matured from last season. He was able to recognize space for himself and created space for other players with some clean passing. Lee Nguyen was also good at finding open players and creating chances with through balls. In the second half, Mark Anthony-Kaye, who only played for the second half, was doing the same thing. Kaye had some wayward passes, but that will change as he gets more time on the field. The midfield was a glaring problem last year, but this game gives hope that it will change from last season.
2 things that need to be worked on:
Breaking the defensive backline. Atlanta throughout the game had a very hard back five during the whole game. They are likely getting ready for the CONCACAF Champions League game they have next week. LAFC had a lot of trouble getting behind it, which could be cause for concern if more MLS teams are going to play LAFC with that type of formation.
The number of fouls near the penalty box. The LAFC defense did a really good job at closing down the high offensive power of Atlanta, but they still committed a lot of fouls within 10 yards of the box. This led to Atlanta’s first goal and plenty of other chances. LAFC needs to be better at having discipline in the defensive third because there are too many great free-kick takers in the MLS now.
5 key moments of the match:
Atlanta United’s first goal. Atlanta broke quickly from a long period of LAFC possession and won a free kick on the edge of the box. Pity Martinez curved the ball right over the LAFC wall into the back of the net. Miller was in good position on the goal line, but no keeper in the world was going to get to the ball.
Atlanta United’s second goal. Tyler Miller threw the ball to Andre Horta who was only a few yards outside of the box. Horta took a heavy touch and Atlanta easily took possession immediately. They moved right towards goal up the right-hand side and Julian Gressel put the ball into the net. Really the only mistake Horta made all game, but it still resulted in a goal for the opposition.
LAFC finally gets on the board in the 58th minute. LAFC had been holding possession in the midfield, not allowing Atlanta to move forward, exactly as we did at the beginning of the first half. Lee Nguyen finally found an opening in the middle and placed a great through ball to Adrien Perez. Perez’s defender fell to the ground due to the wet surface and Perez got to the ball first over Brad Guzan and easily placed the ball into the back of the net.
Carlos Vela’s goal to tie the game. Atlanta’s backline was finally breached and Vela took full advantage of it. He hesitated for a hot second and it threw off Atlanta completely. He went through the defensive line, nutmegged the last defender with his shot and the ball went into the bottom corner of the net. It’s exactly what the MVP of a team should be doing when they are looking for a goal.
Vela almost winning the game for LAFC at the end. Vela once again got away from the backline of Atlanta and was one on one against Guzan. He tried to get the ball over Guzan, but the keeper made a wonderful save to keep the ball out of the net. After being down 2-0 at halftime, it was impressive to see LAFC fight and claw back to almost a winner.
2 players of the match:
Eddie Segura. Segura had a lot of great moments in this game. First off, he is quick on defense. There was a moment in the first half when Josef Martinez, the reigning MVP and Golden Book winner, got past Jordan Harvey. Segura got back and made Martinez switch feet to try and shot the ball. This threw Martinez off and the ball was pushed away with ease. There were not many players that would have been able to do that last year in all of Major League Soccer. Segura also worked really well with Walker Zimmerman, both communicating on who was where. Really excited to see what he can bring to the team going forward.
Carlos Vela. The offense still goes through and is based around Vela, but he showed no signs of that being an issue. Vela looks rested and ready to go for the coming season and had some great opportunities to add to his goal tally for the game. I’m worried about the ball always going to Vela when we look to score because all MLS teams are going to know to close down on him immediately. Hopefully, we will look to move the ball around more and create more chances to shoot the ball.
In the end, there are a lot of positives to take away. While the team is still 3 weeks away from kicking off the 2019 season, there are still things that need to be worked on. Only 2 players played the full 90 minutes, Carlos Vela and Latif Blessing, so a majority of the starting 11 will still need to get to full-match fitness. Regardless, LA is in fine form with 3 weeks until the season opener against Sporting KC.
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