LAFC vs Atlanta United Match Preview
In all sports, there is a time to mourn a loss and a time to move on. As of now, we have to move on. No more talking about potential offside, Zlatan, or our weird decisions that were made towards the end of El Tráfico’s game. We have to look forward the epic game this weekend against one of the best teams in MLS, Atlanta United FC. This is the team I hope LAFC can be as an expansion team: attack minded, consistent, and playoff bound by the end of the year. What the Five Stripes did last year was really impressive, and they are trying to replicate it again this year. Let’s dive into what they have done so far this year, and how LAFC can counter and take away three points on the road again this year.
When I think of some of the most impressive expansion season in MLS history, the first team that comes to mind is Atlanta United FC. With their incredible fan support, fast paced offense, and solid backline, they became one of the teams that you didn’t want to miss each week. With their success last season in making the playoffs, LAFC fans (including myself) felt that this was the new belief in what we could expect from an expansion squad in its first year. So far this year, the Five Stripes have shown some of the same themes from the previous campaign. They have 9 points through 4 games, winning their last 3 in a row. They are maintaining possession of the ball this season, with a vast majority (80%) of their passing ranging from 5 yards or shorter. They also choose to attack from the wing, 76% of their attack comes from the right and left sides, meaning that they are attempting a lot of crosses, as 57% of their shots come from the middle of the 18-yard box. LAFC will need to be hyperaware of the runs down the middle and will need to be sure to close down on the wingers before they get their passes off. At times last week, LAFC became careless in the middle during crosses, so we will need to be sure to lock down on our marks and not let in any free runs. In addition, if LAFC press the ball on defense, even when Atlanta United have the ball in the midfield, we have a good shot at disturbing their flow, allowing for more turnovers and unforced errors. This could allow LAFC to counter, something that Atlanta United have struggled with so far this season.
Looking at LAFC, Atlanta United is going to eyeing to stop the goals from open play. Shockingly, LAFC have scored all of their goals from open play. Not a single goal has come from a set pieces, free kicks, or penalties. One of the main reasons we have scored so many open play goals is because of how balanced we are in attacking the opposition. Digging into the stats (thanks to whoscored.com), LAFC have attacked 33% from the left, 29% from the middle, and 38% from the right. Our three previous opponents are having a hard time trying to figure out where to stop our attack, allowing for free runs from Rossi, Vela, Ureña, or Blessing. Even if we hold the ball for long spells, LAFC will need to be sure to move off the ball, especially since Atlanta United have not allowed a through ball all year. With all that being said, Atlanta have yet to play an offensive power horse like LAFC. No disrespect to Houston, DC, Vancouver, or Minnesota, but LAFC have at least 5 players that can score whenever they want to. Atlanta proved last week that they can park the bus and not allow the other team to score (1-0 win over MUFC), but I feel that LAFC is going to motivated to show everyone that we can get over a heartbreaking loss and get back to their winning ways.
Final Score: LAFC 2 – 1. LAFC scorers: Rossi, Ureña. Atlanta scorer: Martinez.
ARTICLE: ANDREW DORAN FOR HEARTOFLAFC.COM
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