ATLANTA — Reflecting on Los Angeles Football Club’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Atlanta United, defender Steven Beitashour said he didn’t believe the score line was indicative of how the team performed.
Things seemed to go downhill after referee Ted Unkel rescinded a red card issued to Chris McCann in the first minute of the game after a challenge to midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
Atlanta proceeded to score a goal in the first period and four more in the second – including a pair of penalties from Miguel Almiron in the latter stages of the game.
“It’s about pride at that point,” Beitashour said, in his postgame interview. “It’s unfortunate to give up a few more. The score line was 5-0 and I don’t think that’s reflective of how we play. I don’t feel it was a 5-0 game, but it came down to little details and it’s something we trained on all week.”
The game came at a time when LAFC’s start to their inaugural campaign drew some similarities to last year’s start for United when they raced out and won three of their first seven en route to a place in the MLS Cup playoffs – where they lost to Columbus in the play-in round on penalty kicks.
Coming into Saturday’s game, LAFC was 2-1-0 and in the top four of the MLS Western Conference after wins at Seattle and Real Salt Lake. Despite the start and with Saturday’s loss, Beitashour said the team knows it will be difficult to keep that pace over the grueling MLS season.
“Being an expansion team, it’s difficult to come into a league where guys have played together for a long time mesh really well,” Beitashour said. “I think the way [Atlanta] really flew out of the gates was impressive and, I think people want to say we’re similar to that because of the first two game, but it’s difficult to keep that going especially when you are on the road for this long.”
Now, the season doesn’t get any easier with road matches at Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact in the coming weeks before LAFC will finally open Banc of California Stadium on April 29 against Seattle Sounders FC – a team LAFC defeated 1-0 in the season opener.
“I think the veteran guys in the locker room need to pick everyone’s heads up and keep the guys going,” Beitashour said. “We have more games on the road before our first home match and I think guys are really looking forward to that, but we still have two very important games with Vancouver and Montreal coming up.”
And, this is a position all too familiar to Beitashour. With Toronto FC last season, Beitashour started the season on the road for four of the first six games. Toronto won just one of those matches – a 2-0 win at Vancouver – before going on to win the Supporters’ Shield, the Canadian Championship and then defeating Seattle in the MLS Cup.
“A couple of us have been in this position with me specifically with Toronto the last couple of years having to start the season off with all of these road games. It’s going to be a grind,” Beitashour said. “You are going to have to dig in deep.
“It’s not about playing for yourself. It’s about playing for the badge and playing for the guys next to you.”
For now, however, LAFC will need to focus on Vancouver and Montreal before they can even whiff a thought of playing at home, or even think about the playoffs.
That means having the road game mentality.
“It is tough … similar to being down 2-0 or 3-0 on the road with 40,000 or 50,000 fans booing you and cheering against you, you are going to have to stick together and really fight, battle and scrap for 90 minutes, not for 30 minutes, not for 60 minutes … from start to finish.”
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