A frustrating day at the Banc
By: Andrew Doran
The most frustrating game of the season finally happened. Yes, even more frustrating than the loss against Vancouver. LAFC was the superiority team, but they were not able to find the key in order to unlock the backline of the Chicago Fire. Let’s try and find a way to do a 3252 breakdown of a 0-0 draw.
3 things that went well for LAFC:
The amount that LAFC press the other team right when LA loses the ball in the attacking end of the pitch. Jurgen Klopp, the head coach of Liverpool, has a famous style in which his team never stops going for the ball. This season, LAFC is trying to mimic that style, and it’s working fairly well. The pressing kept the Fire on the toes all the time and creates them to rush to pass the ball off quickly. The Fire ended up passing balls out-of-bounds a lot during the game, which allowed for LAFC to continue to work the ball into the box.
The passing that LAFC executed during that game was master class. There were amazing passes in the midfield between Latif Blessing, Eduard Atuesta, and Mark-Anthony Kaye that kept the play moving forward. There was also amazing passing by Rossi and Carlos Vela, including a lot of cheeky backheel passes. In the first half alone, LAFC had 332 passes, which is nearly as many as Chicago had in the whole game. Passes create chances, and LAFC did not lack in that during the game. The team might have been poor at passing in the final 10 yards, but the passing overall was a positive.
The opportunities. Sounds like a weird positive when a game ends in a 0-0 tie, but it wasn’t for the lack of opportunities. LAFC was able to press Chicago over and over and over again. They maintained the ball 63% of the time and kept on pressing forward. There was not a lot of times that they passed it back to Tyler Miller in order to reset play, as they usually restarted with one of the midfielders. The team just needs to find a way to get the ball on target more because one of those balls is going to find the back of the net.
2 things that need to be improved on:
LAFC needs to get more creative when move the ball towards the net. Too many times they would have the ball in the final 10 yards and always look for the cross instead of taking the shot on frame. There was one moment in which Diego Rossi had an opportunity to get the ball onto the net, but decided to pass again. As more teams play LA, they are going to continue to lock down the backline, which means LA is going to have to try and find ways to breakdown the defense. Doing the same thing over and over is not going to do it.
One of the key aspects of LAFC’s game is pressing a lot of bodies forward. It creates confusion for the opposing side, but it can also create breakaways for the other team. It happened during this game and the Black & Gold had some trouble getting back onto defense. There were a few well-timed tackles by Walker Zimmerman, Eddie Segura, and Steven Beitashour that saved LAFC from going down a goal. LAFC need to be aware at all times, especially when Beitashour and Jordan Harvey are all the way forward trying to cross the ball into the box.
5 key moments of the game:
The starting lineup was one of the main keys to this game. With Andre Horta and Rodolfo Zelaya off the injury report for this game, I was convinced that they were going to start or at least see some playing time. Zelaya was completely left off the squad and Horta didn’t make an appearance in the game. Also, with Adama Diomande back from injury, I thought he too would start for LAFC, but instead, the struggling striker Christian Ramirez was placed up top. Ramirez had some amazing chances to place LAFC on top, but his confidence is gone right now.
In the first half, LAFC had a prime chance to put the ball into the net. There was a massive scramble in the box, both Harvey and Ramirez both took shots at the ball, but it just wouldn’t completely go over the line. Half the ball did, but they don’t give half goals for that.
The intensity that died in the second half. The end of the first half was quick, frantic, and had some beautiful soccer. The second half was the opposite. LAFC couldn’t get out of second gear in order to take it Chicago, almost sleepwalking through the match. The passing was not nearly as nice and there was no running into space because it was no longer there. It was baffling to watch.
There were two moments in the game that Beitashour saved the game. Both were on breakaways from the Fire, but with a really great timed tackle, Beitashour was able to get the ball away. Kept the score level, which allows LAFC to get at least a point from the game.
The awful shots on goal. Not really a moment, but it’s hard to find five key moments in a game that ends 0-0. LAFC ended up taking 21 shots today, but only 5 would end up on target. Second lowest of the season, just above the Vancouver loss.
2 key players from the game:
Tyler Miller. The game ended scoreless, so the keeper has to have some credit for that. Miller did have a couple of timely punches from corners that were able to clear the threat. Miller had a moment of insanity towards the end of the first half when he deked out the Fire at the halfway line, but other than that, he was solid at the back.
Carlos Vela. While Vela didn’t get a goal or assist in this game, he was still the best player on the pitch. He was able to burn the Fire multiple times, almost trying to carry LAFC on his back. The Fire just kept on closing down on him though, and he only had one or two really good chances at breaking the deadlock.
Somehow, we are about one-third through the season. LAFC is still at the top of the table, but they have only scored one goal in the last two games. With Columbus and Dallas coming up next, the Black & Gold of Los Angeles is going to have to find a way to be more creative in order to get better chances to score goals. A strong finish before the Gold Cup break will be important for this team.