Los Angeles Football Club had a sparkling performance on Sunday, especially in the second half of the game, to run the Portland Timbers off the field 4-1. Here are the main things we took away from the game.
We could get used to this whole scoring from midfield thing
LAFC excelled in attack last year, but in terms of goal scoring, there was not a lot of that from the midfield last year. Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen popped up with the odd goal here or there, but that was mostly it. Here right off the bat Mark-Anthony Kaye grabs a goal off a corner kick early on. Kaye and Eduard Atuesta especially have looked looked lively so far this season, and they could look to add their names to the scoresheet more often this year. Great teams get a fair amount of goals from the midfield, and LAFC will hope for more of that this season.
Latif Blessing experiment at right back
LAFC lost Steven Beitashour to an injury early on after a clash of heads with Portland’s Larrys Mabiala. Instead of subbing on a more conventional defender such as Danilo Silva or Mohamed El-Munir, Bob Bradley opted to bring on Latif Blessing on to replace Beitashour. Blessing functioned as more of a wingback than traditional fullback, as he was on the ball and generally in more advanced positions than Beitashour usually is. Blessing almost immediately picked up a yellow card chasing down a Timbers player just outside the box. Sebastian Blanco was a player that gave LAFC problems down that right flank all game. But Blessing had a great pass to set up LAFC’s 3rd goal, playing the ball to Vela to cross for Dio’s tap in. So Blessing’s debut as a right back was a mixed bag. He won’t have to deal with a player like Blanco every week over on the flank, but let’s just say Blessing playing as a right back is probably not Plan A for Bob Bradley.
Christian Ramirez looks just a bit off
Though LAFC’s attack especially in this game was very good, one player is not quite firing on all cylinders is Christian Ramirez. He hasn’t been bad, and indeed he scored LAFC’s second goal, forcing home a dangerous cross from Jordan Harvey. But Ramirez has not been on the same page with the other forward players, frequently just missing out on final passes that could lead to scoring chances. Of course, it doesn’t help Ramirez that Adama Diomande has made such an impact off the bench, picking up another goal and assist tonight. It’s only two games in, and Ramirez has time to really take off this season. But with Dio breathing down his neck, if Ramirez wants to keep starting, the competition is really heating up.
Carlos Vela was unplayable today
What a player he is. He assisted on 3 goals (one assist was officially taken away after the fact, boo) and scored one himself. He also created a number of other chances, and drew numerous fouls, including one that got Diego Chara got his first yellow card (he later picked up another yellow and was sent off). He was phenomenal. Soccer is very much a team sport, and building a good team is crucial to competing. But in picking Carlos Vela as their first ever Designated Player, LAFC hit a home run on the first pitch.
In-game injuries were concerning, but did not affect the outcome
I already mentioned the injury to Beitashour earlier, but Mark-Anthony Kaye also came off injured in the second half for LAFC. Peter-Lee Vassell came in for Kaye, and like last game he acquitted himself well. And by that point, LAFC had a third goal, and would soon pick up a fourth, and get Chara sent off, putting the game beyond reach. After the game, Bradley and Kaye said the issue was just cramping, and it didn’t sound significant. On the bright side, the injuries did not dampen a rampant LAFC performance.
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