Lost in the Banc
In what could have been a celebratory night at the Banc of California Stadium, LAFC decided not to show up to their own party. If LAFC would have won the game, they would have locked up the number one seed in the Western Conference for the MLS playoffs, and they would have done it in front of the home faithful.
Instead, the Black & Gold laid an egg and lost 2-0 to Minnesota United.
While LAFC don’t have to worry too much about missing out on the number one seed, considering they have a 16 point lead, Minnesota gave a pretty good blueprint on how to beat LAFC at the Banc. The Loons pressed hard all game long, never allowing LAFC to find open space and closing passing lanes all night. And once Minnesota scored two goals on counter attacks, both goals coming from Mason Toye, they just parked the bus, almost begging for LAFC to come after them. And the Los Angeles Football Club just couldn’t break them.
LAFC’s head coach, Bob Bradley admitted just as much in his postgame press conference. “As we got closer to the goal then, with that many people back there, your margin is small,” said Bradley. “So, that’s where the microscope looks at all the decisions, the touches, when you dribble, all these kind of things.”
Even though LAFC had a ton of possession, 77% to be exact, they lacked taking quality shots on goal. While they ended up with eight shots on target, that number is skewed because of the number of crosses that ended up in the air with Minnesota’s keeper jumping up and grabbing them.
Jordan Harvey, who started the game with the captain’s armband, agreed that LAFC just couldn’t get those important touches to finish up a goal scoring opportunity. “We had some really good spells...we just couldn't break them down,” said Harvey.
Even Bradley knew in his postgame press conference that LAFC was beaten thoroughly. “Give them (Minnesota) credit...we just weren’t good enough today.”
LAFC rotated the squad a lot for the game on Sunday, most notably, Carlos Vela. Vela was hurt last week in El Trafico with hamstring injury and was kept out of the 18 man roster for the game. LAFC missed him on the pitch though, as chances that should have been taken were not and shots ended up way off target. It was not the LAFC team that most fans are used to seeing.
In addition to Vela being out, LAFC really struggled with set pieces. LAFC had a whopping 15 corner kicks tonight, but not a single one ended up as a shot on goal. If LAFC are going to the team to beat in the playoffs, they need to do better on capitalizing on the free chances they have on goal.
While almost the rest of the world gears up for the international break, MLS still has games going on. LAFC will have to travel to the opposite side of the country and take on Orlando for the first time in Florida. There is going to be a higher rotation on the squad because LAFC had six players called up to their national sides. Bradley is rightly upset about it saying, “(There) shouldn’t be games during international play.”
While this game hasn’t been the norm for LAFC this season, it does show how important Vela and others are to this team. “We know Carlos (Vela) is an important guy in our attack,” said Bradley. LAFC will hopefully find a way to regroup and make this the only loss at the Banc this season.