Los Angeles Football Club’s first game on the road was also their first dropped points of 2019, as they got a 2-2 draw against NYCFC on Sunday. It was a tough game, and a well-deserved point for the Black-and-Gold. Here are some observations we had about the game in New York.
First road game, first lineup change of the year for LAFC
After two games at Banc of California stadium, LAFC went on the road for the first time this year, making the cross country trip to New York to take on NYCFC. Yankee Stadium has a notoriously narrow field, and LAFC were not able to play as expansively as they did in the first two games. This was also the first time Bob Bradley put out a different starting XI. Injuries to Steven Beitashour and Lee Nguyen prevented them from taking part, and in their places Danilo Silva came in at right back, and Latif Blessing came in to the midfield. Both additions featured prominently in the first two goals. Alexandru Mitrita burned Danilo Silva down the flank before cutting the ball back and finishing for the first goal. On the other side, on the break Latif Blessing played a perfectly chipped through ball to Carlos Vela, who took it in stride and equalized for LAFC five minutes before halftime. Blessing also drew the penalty that lead to LAFC’s second goal. Overall for the two changes, Blessing was very impressive, Silva not so much, though he did improve in the second half.
Physical play against LAFC continues
LAFC were the most fouled team in MLS last season, and it certainly seems like that could continue this year. LAFC players were repeatedly hacked down by NYCFC players, sometimes on the wings on the break, and sometimes in the middle. The narrow field congested play toward the middle of the field which did not help. And to be fair, LAFC committed their fair share of fouls as well.
Individual mistakes lead to NYCFC’s goals
I already mentioned the first goal by NYCFC by a mistake at the back for LAFC, though to be fair it was really good play by Mitrita. The second goal also involved both good play by New York, but bad defending as well, with Ben Sweat just able to beat Walker Zimmerman around the endline, and then cross the ball back to an open Alex Ring, who hammered the ball in at the near post. Credit to NYCFC for capitalizing, but especially on the second goal, disappointing for a player like Zimmerman to get beat in a position where he should be able to better deal with the attack.
Vela scores twice and Blessing involved as LAFC come back twice
Twice LAFC found themselves behind on the road, and twice they were able to come back from down a goal down. Blessing played Vela in for the first goal, and then the second came off a penalty that Blessing won after being taken down during a scramble in the box. Sean Johnson is very good at stopping penalties, but Vela made no mistake, sending Johnson the other way before slotting the ball in the corner. It wasn’t quite the performance like the one against Portland, but Carlos Vela scored when his team really needed him, and in his first start this year Blessing made big contributions, like he’s done so often for LAFC before.
This was the type of game we saw from LAFC last year, for better or for worse
The game started off uneven, a lot of fouls throughout, and lots of turnovers, as well as struggles at times for both teams to play out of the back. That changed toward the end of the first half, as Mitrita’s first goal really kicked the game into high gear. From then on it was a very open game at both ends of the field, with good chances for both teams, something we saw a lot from LAFC last season. This time though it was not LAFC blowing a lead, but coming back from behind to claim a hard-fought point on the road.
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