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5 Takeaways from LAFC’s 5-0 defeat to Atlanta United

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This was just not LAFC’s day.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

What can you say after a 5-0 loss? In this case, quite a bit, but none of it particularly positive. Let’s go through some of the big points in the aftermath of Los Angeles Football Club’s blowout defeat at the hands of Atlanta United.

The defense needs some improvement.

The Angels defense, coming off a rough second half against LA Galaxy, had a big task ahead of them, to keep the potent Atlanta United attack at bay. Unfortunately, the run of form from the Galaxy game continued. The defense seemed to scramble every time the opposition got into the box. The wings were constantly exposed. Set pieces seemed to be dangerous every single time Atlanta had one. Each one of the non-penalty goals had fixable errors that came down to not only individuals, but organization in the back as a whole. We thought that the return of Walker Zimmerman would help solidify the back line, but it ended up not doing a lot at all.

Joao Moutinho is still playing like a rookie.

The defense may have had a rough game, but Joao Moutinho, LAFC’s first-ever and first overall draft pick, had a shocker of a match today. Playing in the left back role with the return of Zimmerman at centerback, Moutinho several times was either too far forward on the pitch and could not get back (and got beaten), or too far centrally, leaving plenty of space for Atlanta’s right wingers. In the first goal, Moutinho was in the center of the box, which left Julian Gressel wide open. In the second goal, Moutinho was beat out wide by Gressel, who had an open cross to Josef Martinez. To cap the poor man’s day, Moutinho got a second yellow card after a free kick bounced off his arm in the box, giving Atlanta a second penalty kick in five minutes, and left LAFC with just 10 men. He is just a rookie, and he will get better as the season progresses, but Moutinho had a really hard time out there against Atlanta.

LAFC was not ready for the big stage that was playing in Atlanta.

Since LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium is not ready quite yet, the black-and-gold have to be on the road a lot early in their first season in MLS. Unfortunately, that leads to this kind of stage, where LAFC were marching into Atlanta needing a bounce-back game after blowing a 3-0 lead to LA Galaxy. Atlanta is the place you go looking for a statement win, not a bounce-back win. The crowd was over 45,000, in a building which consistently produces record crowds in MLS. The opposition, Atlanta United, is widely regarded as one of the best teams in MLS, for good reason. LAFC played like they were nervous, and once they went down, it just unraveled from there.

For the first time this season, the offense and midfield could get nothing going.

The offense and the midfield could not get anything moving against Atlanta United. This comes after the first half of the Galaxy game, which was a dominant midfield and offensive performance. The front four of Marcos Urena, Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Latif Blessing got little to no service, with Blessing and Vela producing only a couple of threats for Atlanta. The midfield of Benny Feilhaber and Mark-Anthony Kaye had essentially no impact on the match on offense or defense, and the team could not keep possession. All these factors added together led to many chances and a lot of possession for Atlanta, which is a good formula for getting goals dropped on you.

LAFC were facing an uphill battle, featuring Ted Unkel and VAR.

This game against Atlanta got off to a wild start, with Ted Unkel giving a straight red card to Chris McCann after a reckless tackle on Feilhaber in the very first minute. That card was then overturned and changed to yellow after a VAR review, which basically set the tone for the match. Laurent Ciman was lucky to not be sent off for throwing an elbow at Josef Martinez, and Miguel Almiron got two goals off penalties in five minutes — one was for Walker Zimmerman sliding in to dispossess Almiron in the box, where Almiron then got up and went to take the corner before Unkel went to VAR. Unkel then sent off Moutinho with a second yellow for a handball on a free kick. LAFC essentially got Unkel’d this game, and while it did not change the result of the game, LAFC could certainly have done without the penalties.

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