LAFC Get 3-0 Win On The Road in Columbus
LAFC Get 3-0 Win On The Road in Columbus
By: Benjamin Virgen (5/11/2019)
After two frustrating draws, LAFC returned to winning ways on Saturday evening with a 3-0 victory over the struggling Columbus Crew at MAPFRE Stadium. As opposed to recent weeks, the Black & Gold were able to capitalize on their scoring chances against a vulnerable defense and it reflected on the scoreboard. Mark-Anthony Kaye, Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela scored a goal each to help LAFC obtain their eight win of the season and remain in 1st place of the Western Conference. With this result, the Black & Gold continue to show their dominance in MLS as the highest scoring offense and the defense with the least amount of goals conceded. In a match where it might have taken longer than expected to secure the three points, the ability LAFC has shown to finish games has been admirable.
First Half Dominance
With Bob Bradley not wanting to rush any players back from injury, LAFC came out with the same starting lineup that was used vs Chicago last weekend at the Banc. As for the Crew, they were forced to make three changes to their starting XI due to injuries: goalkeeper Zack Steffen (right foot injury) and defender Waylon Francis (muscle strain) were unavailable while forward Federico Higuain (rest) began the game on the bench.
During the first 45 minutes, LAFC dominated possession of the ball, created scoring chances and was able to keep a lonely Gyasi Zardes off the ball with the help of Eddie Segura and Walker Zimmerman. The Black & Gold forced Columbus into turning the ball over in their own half due to the high pressure from the attackers and midfielders that awarded Los Angeles Football club with shots on goal. The midfield trio of Atuesta, Kaye and Blessing continued to impress with great positioning on the field, excellent defending and positive distribution of the ball as the chemistry between the three increases game by game. With Vela as the initiator, that chemistry blossomed into the opening goal in the 37th minute.
The play started on the right side of the pitch where Beitashour passed the ball to Vela. Blessing then intelligently moved into an open space where the Mexican could pick him out between defenders, which he did. As soon as Blessing received the ball, Kaye instinctively made a run towards the box and with the outside of the right boot in an “Nguyen-like” pass; Blessing delivered a dime for the Canadian to finish past the Columbus goalkeeper. It was a beautiful combination of passes that highlighted spacing, movement and sharpness in the LAFC way. Diego Rossi had a couple of scoring chances to put the game away early but one shot was denied by goalkeeper Joe Bendik and the other went inches wide. Nonetheless, the Black & Gold went into the break with a one goal lead.
Things Get Even
For the second half, Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter inserted his playmaker Federico Higuain to accompany Zardes up top in an effort to create scoring opportunities. The substitution worked. Not only did Higuain help his team even things up regarding ball possession but also in creating dangerous chances in the final third of the pitch. In the 58th minute, Columbus had their best chance to score when Robinho crossed the ball to Pedro Santos inside the box. Santos hit the ball with a sweet a left footed volley but his strike was blocked by Tyler Miller in what was the goalkeepers’ first and only save of the game. However, it was enough for Miller’s 5th shutout of the season and second consecutive clean sheet.
Christian Ramirez made his sixth consecutive start for LAFC but failed yet again to get involved in the match as desperation began to play a factor before he was substituted for Adama Diomande in the 65th minute. Even with a lack of game-fitness due to a recent injury, Dio connected with his teammates and displayed great individual efforts that resulted in LAFC regaining control of the game after Columbus had taken over for the first portion of the second half. In the 87th minute, the Norwegian forward was at the right place at the right time as he was able to find the back of the net for his third goal of the season. After miscommunication between the goalkeeper and his defender, substitute Josh Perez missed a wide open goal that bounced off the post to the feet of Diomande, who finished past the goalkeeper and celebrated with an embarrassed but grateful Josh Perez. When it all seemed to be said and done, “No Vela, No Party” right?
Team captain Carlos Vela did not want to leave this match without leaving his print on what had already been a good performance from him. Just two minutes after Diomande’s goal, Vela retrieved the ball in the midfield and dribbled past three defenders and struck his signature left footed curling shot to the far post for his 12th goal of the season in as many games. It was truly the cherry on top for an amazing team performance from LAFC as the final whistle blew. 3-0 win.
Some may say that fatigue played a factor in the Crew’s downfall as this was their third game in eight days and missing one of the best goalkeepers in the league due to injury also took a toll in their chances to getting a result against a team like LAFC. Although in disagreement, I do believe that every MLS team needs to be in full force to have any option to defeat the Black & Gold. However, LAFC are missing players of their own and with some of them inching closer and closer to return, this team will only get better as the season progresses.
Follow me on Twitter @lafcbenjamin to talk LAFC, ask questions or send comments. Thank you for reading and Stay Golden!