Los Angeles, CA – The International break couldn’t have come soon enough. What is typically an unwelcome pause to the season, might actually serve as a good thing for an LAFC side who’s early season struggles continue. Through seven matches, LAFC sit in ninth place in the West, with just eight points. While early season injuries didn’t help, the way with which the team has played is what is most worrisome.
LAFC Struggles Continue After 2-1 Collapse Against New York City FC
LAFC’s recent match against top Eastern Conference side, New York City FC, was the final straw. If many hadn’t pushed the panic button before, they have now. The calls from fans for change has already begun, and questions about Carlos Vela’s commitment, have been asked. After a brief trip to the win column, following a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, LAFC once again found themselves grasping for consistency. The first half finished scoreless, with LAFC once again failing to convert the handful of chances they had created. Finishing the first half with six shots to NYCFC’s three.
The second half went much like it has for the team all season, fairly well. LAFC opened scoring in the 56th minute as the team’s newest attacker added a third goal to his season total. Mark Anthony Kaye put in a great cross that went all the way across the box, finding a wide open Corey Baird back post, for the easy touch and the lead. However, that would unfortunately be as good as it got for the home side.
Rossi ➡️ Kaye ➡️ Baird 🎯 pic.twitter.com/tAma0cV4aC
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 29, 2021
New York City didn’t panic, made adjustments, and then brought on several subs. That was the catalyst for their comeback. Just moments after being brought on, Anton Tinnerholm made his presence felt, putting in a perfect ball into the box, finding Jesus Medina. The Paraguayan put in a shot with pace and just enough curl to get past an outstretched Pablo Sisniega. Just when it looked like things for LAFC had turned around, after NYCFC’s Nicolas Acevedo received a red card, the match was completely flipped on its head by the visitors. In the 90th minute. A poorly defended corner kick resulted in a wide open Ismael Tajouri, who controlled the ball after a flick near post, and cooly slotted in the winning goal.
“It’s a Game We Should Not Lose”
What makes this loss sting more than the others, is not so much the poor play. That, unfortunately, has been the theme early this year. No, it was the inability to convert chances. No moment captured the frustration, and current form better than Carlos Vela’s missed chance late second half. A mistake from NYC goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, gave Vela what equates to a penalty kick, and the number 10 missed. Badly. After the match, Bob Bradley spoke on the moment saying ” that’s a play that Carlos makes, 999 times out of one thousand. Anybody can miss chances, so it happens. That’s the one out of a thousand for someone like Carlos.”
The LAFC head coach opened up his post match remarks sharing the same feelings everyone in Los Angeles shared after the match. “It’s a game we should not lose.” He is right, the missed opportunities, one from your biggest threat in attack, the red card putting your opponent a man down, taking the lead. These were three points basically handed to the home side, yet they still found a way to rip defeat from the jaws of victory.
“I Hope When We Get Back to the Games, You Will See My Best Level”
In true sports fanatic fashion, with a tough stretch comes the overreaction from fans. While the calls for a coaches’ firing is always the first rally cry from frustrated fans, what is really surprising are the questions around star man Carlos Vela. While not en masse, there are a handful of people asking about the Mexican’s commitment. Most of these stem from the misunderstanding during the season opener, that saw Carlos Vela pulled due to injury, and him walking away angry at being subbed off. Since then, questions around his relationship with Bob Bradley have begun, increasing amidst LAFC’s continued struggles.
While the LAFC head coach has been reassuring that they are fine, admittedly something does feel off. Many of us have been in relationships where feelings just, change. There is no big fight, or moment where it ends. Just waking up one day annoyed at how they chew their food. Or pressed about how long they take in the bathroom, or upset over not being thanked enough for doing dishes and laundry constantly. However it happens, it just does, and over time builds into silent resentment, until the dreaded ‘we need to talk’ text hits.
LAFC aren’t there yet, and the overreaction, is just that. As for Vela, he looks forward to the three week break, planning to use the time to improve form. “It will be great because three weeks, training everyday and preparing myself will be good for me, my performance, and my confidence. I hope when we get back to the games, you will see my best level.”
The Last Word
Losing is the worst. It doesn’t feel good and its not fun to watch. Especially when your team is slated to be one of the best teams in the league, only to start off as one of the worst. However, some of the overreaction has reached a fever pitch. The calls for firing Bob Bradley, while expected, are ridiculous. Who would you replace him with? Who would you trust to provide the same, winning while looking good, football, that Bob has built for LAFC. Reminder, we are only two season removed from one of the greatest seasons the MLS has ever seen.
Admittedly, I too have wondered just how long this team, as currently constructed, has before its window is shut. However, I would never question the commitment from the players, or coaches. This team very much wants to win, and, they will win again. While a top seed may be out of the question, the focus still needs to be on reaching the playoffs. Once in, anything can happen, especially for a team with the talent of LAFC. Giving up on them, and calls for firing, does nothing more than solidify a person’s desire to be elsewhere. Tough times don’t last, tough people do, and now we see just how tough LAFC are.