Tense moments surrounded Banc of California Stadium and it wasn’t until the 89th minute when Latif Blessing finally pushed Los Angeles Football Club through to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals with a 3-2 win over USL side Sacramento Republic FC.
Here are five takeaways from last night’s Open Cup win:
Struggling to finish
LAFC had 21 chances at goal but failed to connect. This presents a major problem for Bob Bradley’s squad. It means the absence of Carlos Vela is definitely noticeable as he leads the Mexican national team in the 2018 World Cup.
The problem here could be a couple of things. LAFC’s attack rushed to take the shot. Through passes weren’t clean enough to provide space and Sacramento’s defense did a sufficient enough job of closing gaps.
Tough to work from behind
This was a position LAFC was in for most of the game. Benny Feilhaber’s goal equalized and Diego Rossi’s goal equalized. In fact, LAFC, while seemingly dominating offensively, never really had a foothold on the game until the very end.
In addition to Vela’s absence, Adama Diomande being out of the 18 was also a likely issue in LAFC struggling to hold the full advantage of the game.
Sacramento is better than people might think
Yes, they might be a USL squad, but you can’t take that for granted. They contained LAFC for a majority of the game and, if not for the equalizer and Blessing’s late winner, would have likely come away with an upset.
Say what you will about the USL, there are some very strong teams in the league. Just look at Louisville City FC — the last USL team standing in the U.S. Open Cup.
Rossi finding his role
He may have started off a little slow in the match, but Rossi is starting to find his role with the team.
From about midway through the first half until the end, Rossi made strong runs into the front third and made every attempt to work his way into Sacramento’s defensive back line.
If he continues to progress at this pace, he will continue to be a force for LAFC in MLS play.
Shoring up the defense
Yes, Sacramento is better than advertised, but LAFC’s defense seemed to play on its heels for a lot of this game.
The fact of the matter is that LAFC seemed to play to the competition rather than play to their level. Moving forward, that will have to change if they have any hopes of being successful in the Open Cup competition.
What do you think? Post your comment below!