LAFC 5-0 Atlanta United
I love rooting for an expansion team. We get to create our own culture, our own traditions, feel like we are a part of something bigger than us, and enjoy the small and large milestones when we hit them. Saturday’s game was yet another reason for loving soccer and for loving an expansion squad. Was Saturday’s game fun? No. Are there some glaring holes in the squad? Yes. Is my LAFC fanhood freaked out by Saturday’s display? No way, no how. Let’s breakdown the numbers a little bit and look to as why we should revel in being a fan.
First, let’s talk about a couple of the key things that went well for us during the game. One major thing that popped out during the game was the fact we actually held the ball for a majority of the game. 59% of the game to be exact, 17% more than our best, which was last week against Carson. Even with a lacking midfield, we moved the ball better in the backline, and the score line should have reflected that (if we hadn’t fell apart in the last 10 minutes). With the large amount of hold in possession came another great positive, we had 565 passes! This was 138 more passes than our previous best. Why am I excited about these two stats? Well, it shows that we can change our game plan week to week. While we did not execute our game plan for the weekend, we are able to change our style and shape to who we are playing, something that is unquestionably a positive when we look at a full season of playing games.
Sadly, there was not much to root for when it came to this game. Even though we held a lot of possession and had some great short passes, we never were able to get the attack going. Atlanta United FC were able to keep pressure, as well as keeping a high line, making it hard for the forwards to make legal runs into the box. We only ended up with 1 shot on target, tied for lowest this young season. Simply put, our attack was not there on Saturday, and with LAFC, it’s pretty obvious that for the moment, we are going to be either living or dying with the attack during the season.
I don’t have enough words, nor want to go into the amount of words that I would have to use in order describe the last 30 minutes of the game. From a misplay of Tyler Miller during the second goal, to Joao Moutinho being out of his depth and then being sent off, to the VAR being used in a bizarre way, I am still trying to understand it all. Regardless, it’s clear that we are an expansion team that is still trying to find our way. While we have great leadership in both Ciman and Vela, they are still trying to find their own unique way of bringing this team together especially when we hit adversity. Bob Bradley will figure out the peaks and valleys of the individuals on the team, and hopefully, we will start to gel together in a cohesive manner.
So why is rooting for an expansion team fun? Because we have hope. We all hope that this game in an anomaly. We hope we can change for the better since we already have done better. We have hope that one day we can be a powerhouse in MLS. Will it take time? Or course! Nothing happens overnight. But if we can get a one more win before our glorious home opener, we are setting ourselves up for success. Let’s get ready for Friday, and let’s get ready for our next historic game against someone from outside the United States, the Vancouver Whitecaps.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter at @apdoran. Feel free to send comments, suggestions, or ideas to him!