3252 Breakdown - Last Dress Rehearsal
By: Andrew Doran
In what felt like an eternity, LAFC is finally done with the preseason. LAFC finished up the preseason going against the Vancouver Whitecaps in a spirited friendly that was open to season-ticket holders. This was the last test run before the new season kicks off, so let’s break it down!
3 things that went well:
LAFC showed that they remember how to press the opposition when they have possession of the ball. One of the things that the Black & Gold did well last year was always pressing, trying to find opportunities to get the ball back quickly. It lead to the first goal of the night and towards the end of the game, you could tell Vancouver was getting more tired.
The defensive wall that is starting to take shape. I know it was a preseason game, but both teams played like it was next week; the intensity, drive, and focus were all there. But my goodness, Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura in the middle are becoming the foundation of our defense and it is something to behold. Vancouver didn’t get a shot off in the first half and only had two shots total for the game (both off frame!). Pretty incredible for a team that always leaked goals during this preseason and during the duration of last season.
The midfield is looking really solid. They are maintaining the ball and moving it back and forth between themselves. LAFC ended up creating a lot of chances to move the ball into the final third because they moved it back and forth waiting for space to open up. Mark-Anthony Kaye and Lee Nguyen are creating chemistry and interchanging their positions to keep the defense guessing. It sounds weird, but it kept on working versus a pretty good Vancouver team.
2 things that need to be worked on:
Taking better shots on goal. This is really nitpicky, but the Los Angeles Football Club should be scoring more goals. The team averaged 2 goals per game last season, so to only score 3 times in 3 games is just not good enough. If we have a better backline than last season, then the team will not need to score as many goals, but the ball really needs to get into the back of the net.
Just like last season, we had plenty of corner and free kicks, but none of them ended up as a shot on target. The team has taller bodies in the box compared to last season, but nothing is happening in those dangerous situations. Hope to see LAFC change that for next week.
5 key moments of the game:
Carlos Vela’s goal at the 14th minute. LAFC had a lot of presure on Vancover, never allowing them more than a few moments on the ball. The midfield picked it off again and found Vela running free on the left side. Vela faked everyone out and pretended like he was going to cut in and take the shot from the top of the box. But, he put his head down and took it right to the goal. He shot with his right foot and placed the ball in the bottom opposite corner of the net away from everyone. Great play all-around.
Eddie Segura stops a for sure breakaway. At the end of the first half, Vancouver were finally getting some possession and starting to inch their way towards Tyler Miller. Yordy Reyna, one of the best players for Vancouver, had to only get to the ball and he would have been one-on-one against Miller. Segura came streaking in and had a perfect slide tackle to dispossess Reyna and regain possession for LAFC.
Vela getting knocked out the game early in the second half. This is something we have talked about here on this website as well as the podcast, but Vela was taking way too many hard challenges during the preseason. Unfortunately, the same came true during the game and he went down in a heap. It was hard to tell from the press box vantage point if he was grabbing his knee or ankle, but regardless, it was not a positive development.
The mass substitutions LAFC pulled out during the second half. I was interested in seeing if the “reserve” team would still be able to hold their own against a full strength Vancouver and the answer was pretty much, yes. LAFC did a good job in keeping their shape of 4-4-3. Javier Perez and Adama Diomande played really high up, not allowing for Vancouver to put all their players forward. It’s apparent that LAFC players are buying into Bob Brady’s system.
The “classic” last 10-minute scramble that LAFC are now known for. LAFC still have a hard time locking down the last moments of matches, making sure that they have something to show for it. Tonight, Vancouver didn’t score, but they should have. Last year, LAFC gave away the most number of points in the final 10-minutes, and it ended up costing them the number one seed in the West. LAFC really needs to remember to play for 90+ minutes, and not just 80.
2 players of the game:
Walker Zimmerman. Zimmerman did a really good job at directing the defense and did a really good job at communicating and vibing with both Segura and Danilo Silva. It looks like Zimmerman has taken the next step and he very well could be one of the most important people on the team.
Mark-Anthony Kaye. Played really well in the midfield and is starting to find his groove again. His passing is cleaner and he is making good decisions as he moves about in the midfield. If he too grows, LAFC will only get better. I would be interested in finding how he plays with Horta, but Horta did not play in this match.
In the end, it was a mixed day at the office for LA. To win and dominate the final preseason game can only give confidence going forward, but Vela leaving the match due to injury is by far the most worrying aspect. More information in the coming days will give everyone a better idea of how big or small the injury is. Vela did walk around the pitch to go to the locker room and had no assistance, so hopefully, that is a positive sign moving forward.
Preseason’s over folks and now everything counts. I’ll be excited to bring it on here and on Twitter. Let’s go!
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