Another team crossed off the revenge list
By: Andrew Doran
LAFC were able to cross off another team from their 2019 revenge tour. FC Dallas, a team they couldn’t beat last year, came back to the Banc of California Stadium to try and replicate the draw they got last year. LAFC had other ideas though as defeated FC Dallas, 2-0, in a game that was fairly entertaining. Let’s break it down with our 3252 breakdown!
3 things that went well:
LAFC adjusted during the course of the game. In the first two minutes of the match, it was obvious what FC Dallas going to try and do during the course of the game. Every time LAFC got the ball, FC Dallas would start pressuring the Black & Gold, which caused a lot of uncharacteristic turnovers. LAFC was rattled at first, not sure where they were going to find space. Once the game settled down though, LA was able to get back into their groove of dictating play.
LAFC kept on pushing for goals. During LAFC’s slump a few weeks ago, they struggled to find a way to get shots on goal and sometimes looking like they were out of ideas. Today though, there was a lot more to the attacking facet of their game. Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi were switching wings all the time and Christian Ramirez was sliding over to the side and letting Vela occupy the middle. It took some time, but LAFC was able to see fruits from their labor as they got their first goal from moving around all the time.
The backline for LAFC is incredible. Every time FC Dallas threatened to push the ball into their own attacking third, Walker Zimmerman, Eddie Segura, Steven Beitashour, or Jordan Harvey would just lock it down. FC Dallas didn’t get a shot off in the first half and were only able to manage seven shots in the second. This time last year, LAFC had already allowed 19 goals. This year though, they have only allowed eight goals. There are a lot of reasons why this backline is so good, but one of the major reasons is the amount of clean passing there is between the back four and Tyler Miller. This is due to how clear their communication is. Miller is more confident at pointing out where the ball needs to go, and that is helping out a lot. The amount this backline has improved became very evident in the second half. FC Dallas had a 2v1 situation, but Zimmerman was able to get the FC Dallas players to pass around him and Segura was able to rush back to add support. What looked like was a sure-fire goal, LAFC pressed just enough that FC Dallas’s shot went 10 rows deep in the south end. Third clean sheet in a row for LAFC!
2 things that need improvement:
LAFC is one of the most prolific scoring teams in MLS history. Going into the game on Thursday, they had scored 29 goals, six goals above the second place team, the Philadelphia Union. For as many goals as they have scored though, they really need to work on their set pieces. Coming into the game, LAFC had only scored from two corners and one penalty kick. And today, they had over 10 set pieces and still couldn’t get the ball into the net. By my unofficial count, they only had one shot on target from a set piece, and it was a weak header from Zimmerman. They now have 28 goals from open play, but they need to start to take advantage of free kicks around the box.
There are a couple of players on the Black & Gold that are going through some cold streaks right now. Most notably, it’s Ramirez and Rossi. Every player, no matter where they play, is going to go through a couple of periods of being so cold, they can’t even buy a shot on target. The reason I bring this up is because when these players know they are in a cold streak, they tend to try and do too much. Before Rossi scored his goal late in the second, he was trying to do everything in the box, but his control was off because of how much he was overthinking the simplest things. Ramirez is on another planet right now, but I’m confident that he will find it again. It might be good to get Diomande to start a game or two in order to take away the pressure from Ramirez.
5 key moments of the match:
The starting lineup. Once again, LAFC went with the same lineup as they have rolled out for the last month. I know that Bob Bradley likes to keep the same lineups, especially when there is a struggling player, but the attack of LAFC has been muted due to Ramirez.
It looks insignificant, but the Mark-Anthony Kaye missed shot in the 33rd minute. Why do I think this was one of the key moments of the match? It’s because it was the first time that LAFC were able to crack the code on FC Dallas. Dallas had done a great job at pressuring LAFC every time they had the ball. There had been a couple of shots, but with Kaye’s chance, LA was able to figure out how to beat Dallas, and it was by passing the ball past the backline and allowing the LAFC player to run onto it. It caught FC Dallas off-guard and LA was able to take advantage of that.
Carlos Vela scores in the 39th minute for the Black and Gold. With LAFC finally getting ahold of the game and finding a rhythm, Eduard Atuesta found Vela who was on the edge of the box. Vela had so much space to work with. He calmly turned around towards goal and with precision, he was able to curl the ball low and into the net. LAFC deserved the lead and there was no one better to get them there. Once play restarted, the Banc of California Stadium started to ring down chants of “M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P”. It was a goosebump moment.
Adama Diomande’s miss in the 67th minute. When Diomande was substituted for Ramirez, the attack of LAFC found new life. LAFC had some great chances and they were finding a lot of space. Diomande had a prime chance to put the game to rest, but his shot that rocketed off his foot, missed everything except the advertisement boards behind the goal. It started to feel like LAFC was letting too many chances to go to waste and they would have to pay for it. Luckily, that didn’t happen.
LAFC (finally) put the game to bed with a Rossi goal in the 85th minute. After LAFC had been pressing what felt like the entire game, they were finally able to break through the backline of FC Dallas again. While the goal was originally ruled offsides, it went to VAR and it was shown that Diomande and Rossi were both onside. Rossi was finally able to put his name back on the scoresheet. A one-goal lead is always scary, especially when LAFC has a history of allowing goals in the last moments of the game. A two goal advantage though, and LAFC was able to coast home with three points.
2 key players:
Carlos Vela. Someone posted on Twitter when the players went out to warm-up that Vela was all smiles and doing tricks during warm-ups. That’s how much confidence the best player wearing the Black & Gold, and the best player in MLS, has right now. And it showed during the game. Vela was everywhere on the pitch. He was back defending sometimes, he was switching wings with Rossi, and he found himself in the middle right in front of goal. While there was only one goal to his name, he hit the woodwork twice and missed a chip over the FC Dallas keeper by inches. Vela keeps on placing the team on his back and LAFC is thriving because of it. He is, without doubt, the MVP of the MLS season thus far.
Latif Blessing. Blessing has had one of the more interesting weeks for LAFC players this year. He posted on Instagram this week a very cryptic message about wanting to be let free. While sources say it has nothing to do with LAFC and has to do with his personal life, it was a weird dynamic. Regardless of what is going on in his personal life, Blessing turned out one of his best games of the year. Blessing was an absolute workhorse. He, like Vela, was everywhere on the field. Blessing won a team-high three fouls and had three good tackles to go with it. His passing was great and he brought fire to the team and crowd. When he was awarded the 3252 Man of the Match, he kept on walking in front of the north end, kissing to the fans and kissing the LAFC badge. Hopefully, all will be put to rest going forward and Blessing can focus on winning games.
The Los Angeles Football Club ended up having a routine win tonight. They played well and added more space between themselves and the rest of the West. LAFC and FC Dallas are flying back to Dallas and get to play this game again. It will interesting to see how the teams try to change their tactics in just over 60 hours from now. LAFC has the momentum though and will continue to try and add more of a cushion before the upcoming Gold Cup break.