Not All Wins are Pretty
LAFC got their second consecutive win Sunday night when they beat Colorado Rapids 2-0 at Banc of California Stadium in front of another sellout crowd of 22,000. With this victory, LAFC remain in 3rd place of the Western Conference but are now only three points behind 1st place. This was the first time LAFC has won two games in a row since they beat Columbus and Philadelphia back in June. However, not only did LAFC come out on top with the three points, it appears that the team as a whole has regained their confidence in a very important time of the season.
The match itself was not the most entertaining to watch, especially the first half. In the opening 45 minutes, Colorado was the team that had most of the possession and goal scoring chances. Fortunately for LAFC, Tyler Miller was on his A-game and blocked every shot to keep his clean sheet, his 8th of the season. Laurent Ciman also played at a high level and made a crucial sliding tackle at the top of the box after Colorado had gone on a 2-on-2 counter attack. The partnership of Ciman and Silva continues to look great and they have yet to allow a goal when both are on the field.
LAFC did not get their first shot on goal until the 35th minute when Carlos Vela’s left footed-shot from inside the box was blocked by Tim Howard. The only other opportunity the Black and Gold had to score was a 30-yard rocket free-kick from Ciman, which Howard had difficulties stopping due to the knuckleball type shot. Other than those two chances, LAFC looked dull in attack with Christian Ramirez not being able to get involved as much as he would like to due to Colorado containing him well and the lack of balls headed his way.
With a goalless draw at halftime, Bob Bradley knew that his team needed to come out strong in the second half to break that score line. After a hard-fought battle in the midfield for the entire first half, the second 45 minutes had action in both boxes. Lee Nguyen was one of the most involved players in the first half due to the ball being mostly played in the midfield. Five minutes into the second half, Nguyen decided to go forward and leave his midfield position.
Vela made a heel pass to the run of Steven Beitashour on the right flank about 25 yards outside the box. Beitashour then crossed the ball into the box trying to find Vela but the cross was headed away only to the top of the 18’. After taking one bounce, Nguyen rushed in to the box and chested the ball to his feet, faked out two defenders and squeezed the ball past Tim Howard with a left footed shot for the first goal of the game and his second of the season.
The goal came at a very important time of the game because it allowed LAFC to gain control and tempo due to Colorado now having to attack. In the 77th minute, LAFC’s defense was caught sleeping and it almost cost them a goal. Jack McBean was left all alone in the box but fortunately for us, his header went right to Miller’s hands. That mistake would cost Colorado the game a few minutes later. There is a saying in Hispanic soccer culture that says, “The goals that you don’t score, you’ll get scored on.”
Just like in the game against Real Salt Lake, it only took 30 minutes of good soccer for LAFC to secure a victory. Ideally, the fans would like to see 90 minutes of good soccer but if the result is a win, I don’t think they mind as much. After the second goal from Rossi, Colorado did not have a response and the game was over. For Rossi, it was his 8th goal of the season and is now tied for 2nd with Carlos Vela on the team. Speaking of goals, it was nice to see AdamaDiomande return from injury after missing the last two games. Dio was not able to get on the score sheet but he did contribute with a beautiful assist, his 4th of the season, to set up Rossi for his goal.
Overall, it was a good but ugly win for LAFC in a match where the attractive soccer they are accustomed to playing was not there. The game was mostly played in the midfield and the difference was that LAFC took advantage of their scoring chances. The win helps to build confidence, morale and team chemistry in a crucial part of the season. LAFC are in control of their own destiny and are in good position to make the playoffs in their inaugural season.
The next match for LAFC is an away match. However, they will not need to get on a plane to get there. That is good news after a month of August filled with exhausting fights from Los Angeles to New York to Houston and back to L.A. The team will only need to drive south a few miles to Carson where they will face the Galaxy on Friday night for the third time this season. The match will be played in a guaranteed sold-out StubHub Center. LAFC will be looking to get their first victory against Carson and how sweet would it be to beat them in their own stadium.
With a combination of results and a win versus the Galaxy, LAFC could potentially be in 1st place as soon as this weekend. The Galaxy is coming off a 4-game winless streak and have several players injured. On the other hand, LAFC are on a 2-game winning streak and have practically a full healthy roster at disposition. Two teams that are living two different realities and it seems that LAFC are the heavy favorites in this one. However, LAFC cannot get too confident and need to focus the entire game after blowing leads on separate occasions versus the Galaxy.
El Trafico: Part III is set for the taking.
August 22, 2018
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