Preview — After an abrupt stop, months of waiting, and a tournament in Orlando, the 25th season of the MLS returns. LAFC return to regular season play against bitter rivals, the LA Galaxy. While the MLS is Back Tournament didn’t go as planned, the black and gold are focused on what’s ahead.
LAFC Return to Regular Season Play Against Rivals, LA Galaxy
Even before the season began back in March, the goal for LAFC was winning the MLS Cup. According to reigning MVP Carlos Vela nothing has changed that.
“We want to win. We feel we are so close to getting a trophy for the club,” he said while speaking to media ahead of Saturday’s match.
While the unknowns of the continued pandemic looms over this shortened season, one thing is known. LAFC are ready.
MVP Vela is Back
One glaring absence from the MLS is Back Tournament was LAFC star forward Carlos Vela. The reigning MVP, and team captain, opted out of the Orlando tournament to be with his family. However, now that the MLS has formulated a plan for the return of the season, Vela is back with the squad and ready to makeup for lost time.
“Happy to be back with my team, my teammates, training everyday. Preparing our team and play everyday, to finally win a championship. We are preparing every detail to be a better team and trying to get ready for anything,” he said.
It’s that mentality and hunger for more that the squad perhaps missed more than the goals he provides.
Tomorrow. The King returns. 👑
— LAFC (@LAFC) August 21, 2020
Star Returns to Galaxy
Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Schelotto confirmed that Chicharito would be out for at least another week, recovering from a calf injury suffered at MLS is Back. However, the Galaxy will have one returning key player, with Jonathan Dos Santos said to be ready to go.
Dos Santos’ recovery had him staying in LA while his team went to Orlando. The return of Dos Santos, even in a limited capacity, will be a boost for a Galaxy side looking for revenge.
If a derby match is played without fans in attendance, did it even really happen? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. While the MLS has returned, fans in certain markets have not. LA County remains a hotspot for COVID-19, with local government continuing to restrict mass gatherings, sporting events included.
It’s no secret the 3252 have created one of the best atmospheres in the league. LAFC feed off that energy, turning The Banc into a fortress, losing only twice at home, ever. While there are plans to feed artificial fan noise into the stadium, without faces in the crowd, not sure how much it will help.
LAFC Need To….
Get off on the right foot.
Which, in a shortened season, with phase one against the best teams in the conference, first match against a hated rival, won’t be easy. However, the return of Vela cannot be overstated. Teams in Orlando — the Portland Timbers and Galaxy specifically — clogged the middle on LAFC. They made it difficult to find clean passes, they put pressure to stifle attacking build-ups, and they forced errors. Those errors in the midfield, ultimately led to goals.
With Vela returning, the risk to play that pressure intensifies. Giving up counter-attacks becomes a lot more dangerous when it’s Vela charging at the goal in open space. However, he alone won’t be enough. Eduard Atuesta needs to get back to his, maestro of the midfield ways, and Diego Rossi needs to continue his aggressive play from Orlando.
— LAFC (@LAFC) August 21, 2020
The most intriguing part of the return will be how LAFC handles playing without fans. Sure, they’ve held closed-door scrimmages during preseason, but this feels different. This is different. Still, LAFC are a squad that has, up to now, faced every adversity head on, knowing if they play their style, the results will take care of themselves. Which has always been true is that on their day, this team is unbeatable.
Whether they return to playing that way remains to be seen. The Galaxy may be out for revenge, but LAFC still give off the vibes that they have a lot to prove, and prove it they will, LAFC win 3-1.