LAFC Get 5th Win in 6 Games: 2-0 Victory Over New England
The revolution is over.
Ever since New England appointed experienced head coach Bruce Arena on May 14th as their new manager, the Revs have arguably been the hottest team in MLS going 11 games unbeaten. That streak ended tonight. LAFC traveled across the country into Gillette Stadium and came away with a 2-0 victory over New England with goals from Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing. Although the Revs have shown significant improvement under Arena, they had yet to obtain a victory over a top team like the Black & Gold. Earlier in the week, Arena had mentioned it would be a tough test to play against the top team in the league: “We’ve come a long way in two months but this is probably the most severe test that we’ve had, and it’s going to tell us a lot about our team as we move forward”. The result left us with the conclusion that LAFC were the better team and New England still has some work to do. Tonight’s match was just another example of quality possession-based football by Bob Bradley’s men that translated to the three points coming back to Los Angeles.
Early Bird Special
The starting XI for the Black & Gold saw the return of Tyler Miller in goal due to Pablo Sisniega obtaining a sprain in his right shoulder during training this week. It was Miller’s third start since coming back from international duty with the USMNT over the summer. The 26 year-old goalkeeper displayed great distribution and good command of his box en route to his first clean sheet since May 16th. As for the rest of the lineup, it was business as usual with no surprises.
The first few minutes of the match saw both teams attempt to dictate the tempo of the match but with neither succeeding to do so until the 7th minute of play. Per usual, LAFC was playing out of the back with their defenders as they absorbed the pressure from New England’s attackers and midfielders. Intelligently knowing this, Rossi made a sprint down the left wing behind his defender, who wrongfully assumed a pass on the ground. During the week, I had mentioned on Twitter that Jordan Harvey did not offer much offensively but his contribution in this game in attack proved just how important he is to the team. Rossi received a lobbing pass from Harvey and the Uruguayan “chipped” the ball over New England’s goalkeeper for his 13th goal of the season.
Fellow Heart of LAFC writer Andrew Doran was spot on in his preview regarding the Black & Gold’s chances of winning this match. Andrew pointed out that an early goal would force the Revs to chase the game and intensify their press up the pitch, which is exactly what happened. In addition, the early lead allowed LAFC to control the tempo of the match while maintaining possession of the ball and dictating play.
The LAFC Way
The artificial turf was a point of discussion during the week leading up to the match with LAFC historically not having the best performances on this type of surface. None of that mattered during tonight’s game as the Black & Gold acclimated and adjusted to the field conditions accordingly with sharp passing in all areas of the pitch.
With a 1-0 lead at halftime, LAFC came out with a strong mentality for the second half with good understanding and better movement between the midfielders. The Black & Gold counter press allowed for more possession on the opponent’s half with the midfield trio connecting with the attacking trio on several occasions. With the exception of a missed fast-break opportunity from Teal Bunbury early in the second half, LAFC’s defense was solid with only one shot allowed on target. The excellent positioning and communication between the back line allowed for quick transition and buildup play from the likes of Atuesta, Kaye and Blessing, with the latter getting himself on the score sheet in the 71st minute.
A true LAFC goal where patience was the main virtue took place where all three midfielders and all three attackers got a touch on the ball. It was a clinic of 13 consecutive passes where the chemistry was accentuated in its maximum potential. Remember Jordan Harvey? Well it was his one-touch cross from the left side to Blessing that got him his second assist of the match as the Ghanian finished past the New England goalkeeper for his 3rd goal of the season. Team captain Carlos Vela had several chances to score in this match but fortune was not on his side tonight. Adama Diomande had himself another great performance as he looks to be back to 100% with four consecutive 90-minute games. His ability to go at defenders in full-force along with holding the ball when necessary has given fellow forwards Rossi and Vela to have more space to work with.
With the result, LAFC have now won 5 of their last 6 league games while solidifying themselves in 1st place of the Western Conference along with being the front runners for the Supporter Shield. The Black & Gold continue to show their dominance in the league as team who plays good football but also shows a good mentality. It was not easy to go into Gillette’s Stadium artificial turf with a team on an eleven-game unbeaten streak managed by Bruce Arena and come out with a positive result. Tonight’s match was just another example of quality possession-based football by Bob Bradley’s men that translated to the three points coming back to Los Angeles.