LAFC Stay Hot And Get 4th Straight Win
LAFC Stay Hot And Get 4th Straight Win
By: Benjamin Virgen (4/14/2019)
Great teams always find a way to win, even when the sharpness isn’t there. At the end of the day, an ugly win is better than a beautiful loss.
It wasn’t their best performance but LAFC managed to secure their 4th consecutive victory after defeating league newcomers FC Cincinnati by a score of 2-0. Goals from Mark-Anthony Kaye and Carlos Vela contributed to the team remaining undefeated this season and in 1st place of the Western Conference. A mixture of good defending from LAFC and the visitors failing to capitalize their chances gave the Black & Gold their third consecutive clean sheet as Tyler Miller has not conceded a goal in 325 minutes. Cincinnati came to a sold-out Banc of California Stadium with a game plan of counter-attack football and organized defending that almost worked for the embracing underdogs. Although Los Angeles Football Club led for the majority of this match, the win never seemed to be secure until stoppage time.
Good Start But Could Be Better
Still, no MLS club this season has found the formula to come out of the Banc with a positive result. But teams are getting closer. Per usual, LAFC started the game dominating possession of the ball and in full-attack mode. In the 2nd minute of play, the ball fell to Diego Rossi’s feet inside the box after a deflected shot from Latif Blessing but the Uruguayan forward was denied by goalkeeper Spencer Richey with a great save. If Rossi finishes that, the complexion of the game would’ve changed completely. After 30 minutes, LAFC were creating good football through Carlos Vela with the Mexican pulling the strings in the attack. FC Cincinnati would respond with the occasional counter attack but for the most part, the Black & Gold were solid in defense and recovered the ball quickly in the midfield. Entering this match, Los Angeles Football Club was averaging one goal scored per 28 minutes played and nearly hit their mark in this one. In the 31st minute, Vela curled in an inviting cross into the box off a corner kick and found the head of Kaye as the Canadian redirected the ball to the far post for the opening goal of the match. It was the second time this season that LAFC have benefited from the Vela-Kaye connection as the midfielder scored in similar fashion vs Portland in Week 2.
There were a few questions asked about Tyler Miller’s shaky performance last week at DC United as he failed to secure two crosses with his gloves. In this game, it was his feet that nearly cost his team a goal when in the 37th minute, he casually tried to pass the ball out of his box to a teammate. FC Cincinnati striker Darren Mattocks was able to get a touch on it but fortunately the ball went out of bounds. Miller may have his weaknesses but his “shot-blocker” ability is undeniable. In the dying moments of the first half, Walker Zimmerman had a rare miscue in defense when Mattocks poked the ball away from him and it fell to midfielder Kenny Saief. Mattocks got the ball back from Saief and hit a bending shot to the far corner but Miller made an amazing one-hand save that allowed him to keep the shutout going into the half. Although the score was in their favor, it was a frustrating first 45 minutes for LAFC as they should have been up by multiple goals but was unable to capitalize their chances. FC Cincy showed they were dangerous on the counter and would become more aggressive in the second half.
It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish
There were no substitutions made during the break but the dynamic of the game certainly changed as LAFC lost control of the ball for the first 15 minutes of the second half. FC Cincinnati was able to create more chances off the counter attack with the speed of Kekutah Manneh and LAFC were forced to make great defensive efforts to prevent a goal. With Adama Diomande injured, Christian Ramirez made his first start since Week 3 but was unable to get involved in the match and was subsequently subbed out in the 65th minute for season debutant Josh Perez. The modification gave the team a boost of energy and extra spark that allowed the Black & Gold to regain control of the game.
For the remainder of the match, LAFC created chances through Perez as the 21-year old got himself engaged in the attack right away. In the 80th minute, defender Kendall Waston nearly equalized for his team after Miller came out to clear the ball with his fists but missed it. Waston got his head on the ball but it just went over the bar as FC Cincinnati exposed Miller’s weakness yet again. On the negative side, Zimmerman was forced to leave the game in the 82nd minute due to an undisclosed injury as Danilo Silva came in to replace him and did well in relief at center back. Just when we thought the game would end in a 1-0 victory for LAFC, stoppage time provided opportunities for both sides through the counter-attack but only one team was able to capitalize.
In the 91st minute, Mattocks received a through ball and dribbled inside the box towards Miller with Eddie Segura on his side. Mattocks successfully got past Segura and took a left-footed shot with only Miller to beat but his strike went wide to the disappointment of the incoming runs of three teammates. Just two minutes later with Cincinnati thrusted forward, Atuesta received the ball in the middle with acres of space and time to make a decision. The Colombian used his vision and picked out Vela’s run to leave him 1-on-1 with Waston. Bingo. Just how I mentioned in my preview that FC Cincy leave huge gaps between their players that invite the through ball and how bad their center-backs are at defending the 1-on-1, both happened in this play. Vela was able to beat Waston off the dribble and muscle him off before passing the ball with his right foot into the back of the net as Richey was coming out. 2-0 and game over.
Defend The Banc
The goal wasn’t a stoppage-time winner but it was a sigh of relief as it was the only moment LAFC felt secure about getting the win. FC Cincinnati was not an easy team to beat as they executed their game plan well but were unable to take advantage of their moments. They allowed LAFC to have possession of the ball and used it against them with the counter attack approach. It almost worked. The Black & Gold were not as sharp as they would’ve liked to be but their constant attack on FC Cincy’s defense eventually paid off. Like I said, it was not a pretty win by any means but getting the three points at home will always be welcomed by Bob Bradley.
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All Photos credit to LAFC.