LAFC Lose 1-0 Against Rapids: Set Piece Goal Makes The Difference
There was nothing typical about Friday night’s match between LAFC and Colorado Rapids, starting with it being the first place team in the Western Conference playing against the last place team in the West. In the end, the underdogs came out victorious with a surprising 1-0 win over the league leaders in a game that was interrupted by a rare hour-long weather delay in the second half. The defeat snapped LAFC’s ten-game unbeaten streak in all competitions as well as Carlos Vela’s seven-game scoring run. The Rapids obtained their 5th victory over the past 8 games where they have only lost once and consequently moved within three points of a playoff spot. This was only the second loss for LAFC all season and coincidentally both were against bottom-of-the-table teams as well as by the same 1-0 score line.
New Midfield, New Result
The stats for the game are deceiving as they will tell you that the Black & Gold dominated possession of the ball for 65% of the time and completed almost 300 more passes than their opponent. Like I always say, majority possession in football is about quality and not quantity. The speed of the game never allowed LAFC to display their quick-tempo play as Colorado did a good job in preventing passing lanes in the midfield along with creating turnovers in the process. Out of the 12 shots LAFC had during the match, only two were on target. That will not get it done.
Whether it was the chemistry between the players on the field or the lack of sharpness from them, the starting XI was an experimental one as Bob Bradley has begun to manage his player’s minutes with an upcoming heavy schedule. The midfield trio was playing together for the first time this season with the absence of Eduard Atuesta (Bob Bradley didn’t want to risk him missing the SKC game next week as his next yellow card will result in a one-game suspension) adding to the already missing Mark-Anthony Kaye. Josh Perez made his first start of the season in the midfield along Lee Nguyen and Latif Blessing but if you read my article earlier this week, nothing compares to when the Three Amigos are on the field as it showed with Vela not being able to find his spots.
Set Piece Nightmare
The first half of the game was dreadful to watch as both teams were playing an unimaginative and lethargic style of football that saw Colorado create danger through set pieces and crossing from the wings. As for LAFC, Atuesta’s vision and Kaye’s presence were sorely missed as the Black & Gold lacked ideas with Nguyen and Perez as Blessing played the defensive midfielder role. Regardless of the reasons, Bob Bradley was not satisfied was not pleased with the way his team was playing.
For the second half, no personnel changes were made but there was a modification early in the half, specifically in the 49th minute. Just how LAFC.com writer Vince La Rosa had previewed, set pieces were going to be something to look out for with a team that lacks offensive fire power. The Rapids had already knocked on the door in the first half and punished LAFC with header from midfielder Danny Wilson off a corner kick. Being a bit critical, the height of Zimmerman and Kaye could have been used in that set piece as Segura and company were unable to deal with Wilson. Just a couple minutes later, the game would be delayed for one hour due to a thunderstorm warning.
When both clubs returned to the field, Bradley did so with a more aggressive approach along with subbing on two players in Mohamed El-Munir and Adrien Perez. Steven Beitashour and Adama Diomande were the ones to leave the field in the 52nd minute. For the remainder of the match, LAFC created several scoring opportunities through Diego Rossi and Adrien Perez but Tim Howard’s heroic save and Perez’s lack of accuracy failed to get the Black & Gold on the scoreboard. On a positive note, Rodolfo Zelaya was able to make his MLS debut in the 65th minute when he replaced Josh Perez.
It certainly wasn’t the result that LAFC was looking for but looking at the glass half-full, there is a game in less than 5 days vs Sporting KC that will give them the opportunity to turn things around and put this defeat behind them. Due to the excellent season that the Black & Gold are having, the loss in Colorado still allows them to remain in 1st place of the Western Conference. Dealing with a heavy schedule in July, players returning from international duty and playing as the heavy favorites in almost every game is something that Bob Bradley will have to mentally prepare his guys for to stay on track en route to the playoffs.