Los Angeles, Calif — If there was ever a time to get back on track, now is that time. With only eight matches left in the regular season, finding consistency is great, but stacking together wins is more critical. LAFC got their first road win of 2020 last night, against a Real Salt Lake side trying to find consistency themselves.
While the match started off with RSL looking like the favorites, it was the final third finishing of LAFC that proved the difference in settling the three points.
LAFC Get First Road Win of 2020 Against Real Salt Lake
The themes of the match were counter-attacks and through balls along the flanks. Both sides found early success attacking the defending fullbacks, with RSL singling out LA’s Latif Blessing. However, it was LAFC who struck first in the 22nd minute with a goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips. The Englishman found himself in the poacher’s position, mere feet from goal, as ball in the box hit off the post, only to find his feet for the tap in.
In vintage LAFC fashion, the black and gold wasted no time in adding to their lead. The 27th minute saw Diego Rossi show why the international snub was a head-scratcher. After finding the end of a great long-ball from Cifuentes, Rossi turned on the skills, crossing up the defender on his way to a saucy finish.
The final goal for the black and gold came in the 59th minute, from the lightning rod himself, Brian Rodriguez. With so much being thrown his way both on, and mostly off the pitch, it was a great moment for him to quiet his doubters, if even for a moment. While RSL were able to pull one back in the 64th minute via an Eduard Atuesta own goal deselection, it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback.
Last night Los Angeles did something it hadn’t done much during this season, they won while not playing their best football. “Important win, not our best football,” said Head Coach Bob Bradley after the match. “Sometimes on the road, you don’t play as well as you’d like, but you find ways to win. I think that’s a credit to the players.”
Teams like Seattle are so consistently good because they are able to get results even when things are going against them. LAFC had just 75 percent pass accuracy, lowest since the 77 percent in early September when facing this same RSL side. In the prior meeting, where RSL won 3-0, LAFC had 19 shots with eight on target, while last night had only eight shots, with five on target. Winning this match was huge for the playoff race, but even bigger in terms of gaining confidence.
Nothing but Black & Gold love.
— LAFC (@LAFC) October 5, 2020
Only Gets Tougher
After a week off from matches, with ample training and recover, LAFC, like the rest of the league, now embark on a rapid push to the playoffs. With eight matches remaining, six, will be played this month. While that may be hard enough, Los Angeles also have to navigate the International break, with three players leaving today, for their time abroad.
Cifuentes, Palacios and Brian Rodriguez will all be unavailable for the majority of their remaining matches. When you include the mandatory 10-day isolation period upon returning, those players are looking at an end of October return, at the earliest. In addition, the injuries and general oddity that this year has been, make this one of the toughest stretches LA will face.
At the time of publish, there has yet to be any official word on a postponement to the Colorado Rapids match scheduled for Wednesday. Assuming that the match goes on as planned, it will be another short turnaround for Los Angeles, and another opportunity to begin stacking together wins. As San Jose proved, no match is a gimme, and with so many distractions surrounding the next match, it is imperative LAFC remain focused on the task at hand.
aLast night’s win propelled them to fifth place in the West. However, while they are only six points from the top, they are also only six points from the bottom. Which is why consistency is so important. With matches against Seattle, Portland and the Galaxy looming, each time out is more important than the last.