Los Angeles, Calif. — Throughout their slump one thing LAFC has not done is panic. Constantly reiterating that playing their brand of football, was all they need to focus on. Last night, they showed precisely why that’s the recipe for success. LAFC got back to their winning ways in style against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
LAFC Back to Winning Ways Against Whitecaps
While going over every goal in LAFC’s six goal rout would be an article in it of itself, there are some important notes to takeaway. First, LAFC not only got back in the win column, they got back to breaking records. Los Angeles scored five of their goals faster than any other squad in the MLS, scoring five in the first 32:13 of the match.
Their first four goals came in just a blistering, 14 minutes from kickoff. It was clear from the start that LAFC were the better squad. Really, they had the win wrapped up by halftime.
Putting on a Clinic
From kickoff, there was one aspect of LAFC’s play that was immediately, and noticeably improved, passing. Eduard Atuesta made his return to the starting line-up after recovering from injury, and his presence was felt instantly. His distribution was on-point, but just his presence alone seemed to open up the middle of the pitch more. While it would easy to key in on his return as the catalyst for the offensive explosion, give credit where it is due. Mark-Anthony Kaye completely bossed the midfield last night. With several key passes, an assist and some great defensive play in transitions, it was the MAK attack that stifled Vancouver from gaining any rhythm. LAFC finished the match with close to 700 passes, with 90% accuracy.
🚨 A RECORD BREAKING night for @LAFC! 🚨
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 24, 2020
Clean Sheets are Great
The biggest positive had to be keeping the clean sheet. With a lot of talk about how poor the defense had been, tonight was further proof that it simply isn’t all their fault for the recent run of poor form. With LAFC vastly improving their passing and possession, there were no transition chances for Vancouver. There were no break-away counters and no real issues for the defense or Pablo Sisniega in goal. The Whitecaps finished the match with just four shots, with zero on target. While the recent news of Danilo Silva retiring, it is suspected that LAFC will go looking for a new CB, but it’s important to bookmark this match as a lesson in the importance of possession within the middle of the park.
Aside from the obvious good feelings a shutout gives you, the goal differential is what really helps. While number of wins is the first tie-breaker when teams finish the season with the same amount of points, goal differential is the next deciding factor. With the Western Conference so close, and this being a shortened season, it is very likely seeding, and playoff positioning, could come down to goal difference, making clean sheets like last night, all the more important.
The Perfect Storm for Good Form
After the match, head coach Bob Bradley spoke to media via Zoom, emphasizing using this match as a springboard. “A lot of positives, it was important for us to have a shutout tonight. Hopefully it’s a game we can build on” he said.
He isn’t wrong either. LAFC finish phase two hosting the San Jose Earthquakes in just a few days time. After that, LAFC begin their final set of matches, starting off with a run of Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders, with the first two on the road.
Last night’s win was great, but with a match ahead against a Quakes side that has given up 15 goals in their last five matches, this is the perfect time to find form. If there is one certainty in the MLS, especially in a year like this, it’s that chaos reigns supreme, and nothing is a given. However, if LAFC can get back-to-back wins, while looking great doing it, it could lead to a run at the perfect time; going into the postseason.
“A lot of positives, it was important for us to have a shutout tonight. Hopefully it’s a game we can build on.”
— LAFC (@LAFC) September 24, 2020
This is exactly why it’s so hard to give up on this squad. It’s also why so many have been antsy with the recent run of poor form. When this team is on, they are near unstoppable. However, as we have seen, it’s been hard for them to stay on. With San Jose next, now is the time to start stacking wins and good performances. Some have compared this year’s side with the ‘slow starts’ that Seattle tend to endure and overcome. Well, if they are going to go on a Sounders-like run, now is the time to start it.