We're going East!
With all the All-Star festivities done, LAFC is ready to kick off the “second half” of the season. After a nail-biting win over Atlanta United last week, LAFC now has to fly to New England in order to play one of the most interesting teams in the Eastern Conference.
Arguably, the New England Revolution are the hottest team in MLS. They haven’t lost a league game since May 8 against the Chicago Fire. One of the reasons that this team is so good is due to their new head coach, Bruce Arena. Arena has figured out how to make the Revolution from the laughing stock of MLS to a dark-horse in the Eastern Conference. Before today’s game, they sit in seventh position, with a total of 33 points. That’s only six (!) points off the top, which the Philidelphia Union holds right now.
One aspect of the game that LAFC should be able to dominate is holding onto the ball. Twenty-two games into the season, the Revolution has only averaged 45% of the possession. LAFC, on the other hand, is averaging 54%. Luckily for LAFC, holding onto the ball and dictating play is part of the reason they are 10 points clear for the Supporters Sheild.
Unfortunately for LAFC, the Revolution play on an artificial pitch. And LAFC doesn’t play well on a artificial pitch. I wrote about it earlier this year, but some of the worst losses in LAFC’s history have come on these types of pitches. It might be because LAFC plays on great grass, both at the training facility at CSU-LA, or at the Banc of California Stadium.
But, when LAFC has to play artificial, they just seem….off.
The passing is not as clean and the players are always scrambling to the ball in order to get a shot off. The same shape is there, but the team just can never get ahead of the ball. We all saw that in April when LAFC went to Vancouver and lost 1-0.
If LAFC is going to have a chance in this game, they are going to have to score early in order to make New England chase the game. LAFC counter-attacking is getting better each week, so if LAFC gets ahead early, New England is going to have to press a lot more than they are used to. If LAFC can find ways to score as they did in the 15 minute period against Atlanta, I expect three points coming back to LA.