Last week, Los Angeles Football Club forward/midfielder/defender Latif Blessing made a pretty wild prediction for Saturday’s match with Real Salt Lake.
The Ghanaian suggested LAFC would avenge their playoff exit to Real with a 5-1 beating.
"It’s payback time, we’re ready to go."@latif_blessing has some unfinished business with Real Salt Lake— LAFC (@LAFC) March 21, 2019
️ https://t.co/BBIzg4KDfo pic.twitter.com/rUcrqSAbwp
Eh, probably not the direction I would have gone with. And certainly, not the direction the media relations staff with the club would have liked to have seen either.
Look, I get it.
Revenge is sweet, and LAFC got it by way of a 2-1 win with a goal in the waning minutes of the match, but suggesting a 5-1 scoreline or even using a media interview to trash talk??? Let’s save that for the NBA.
But, it did offer up some nice media for the league as, after the match, RSL head coach Mike Petke told MLSSoccer:
”At least the prediction didn’t come true,” Petke said. ”At least we didn’t lose 5-1, you know? 2-1 on a blazer in the last minute, you take your hat off to that. But I apologize to the guy who made the prediction it’s going to be 5-1.”
There is a reason why most coaches in just about any league – from college to the pros – discourage their players from saying things like what Blessing said before the match.
It only serves as bulletin board material to fire up the team you are trash talking.
And it seemed to have worked, as Real Salt Lake came out on a mission. If not for a last-second goal by defender Walker Zimmerman, LAFC would have shared points rather than come away with three.
On paper, after suffering a 5-0 loss the week before, it would have been easy for LAFC to come out and dominate RSL, but that just didn’t happen. In fact, the match might have shown more about the weaknesses for the Black & Gold rather than any positives.
It also might have brought out the worst in a fan favorite like Blessing. Coming in strong on Bofo Saucedo in the area was something that most players, in that situation – with a teammate close by the make a challenge on the ball – would have likely strayed away from.
It also showed that the midfield trio of Blessing, Andre Horta and Eduard Atuesta may not be the best midfield combination LAFC should throw out from week to week. They lacked the ability to close space and work as a unit.
And, when they were in tight spaces, their lack of cohesion showed.
Now, can you attribute all of this to Blessing’s claim the week before? No, of course you can’t.
However, you have to think that RSL was a little fired up after the video and tweet of Blessing’s prediction went out over social media.
And to suggest that Petke didn’t use that in practice would be silly. Every coach uses those kinds of things to motivate players … and, in this instance, it kind of worked.
I would be remiss if I didn’t state that Blessing is an important part of this team and they are much better with him than without.
He has also ingratiated himself with the fans, and that is another important thing to keep in mind.
The team also had revenge on its mind following last season’s end to the season in the MLS Cup playoffs.
The bottom line here is claims like Blessing’s might be good for a media frenzy, but they aren’t necessarily good for the team.
Keep that stuff to yourself and let your play on the field do the talking.
M.A. Clark writes the weekly Black & Gold View for angelsonparade.com. Be sure to send along a comment, question or a topic you would like him to discuss in future columns.