After romping past the San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United, Los Angeles Football Club had to really fight in this game, but they still came away with the 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati on Saturday. Here’s what stuck out to us in this game.
LAFC get the lead, but Cincinnati fought hard
LAFC kept up their current form as far as ball control is concerned. They piled up the chances and possession in the first half, but FC Cincinnati held strong, blocking a number of shots in and around the area. LAFC also missed some chances they should have scored. FC Cincinnati’s bend-but-don’t-break defensive play almost worked, but Mark-Anthony Kaye powered home a header in the 32nd minute to break the deadlock. LAFC took that lead to halftime, but it required a few good saves by Tyler Miller to keep the lead.
Latif Blessing thriving in midfield
Starting his MLS career as a wide attacker with Sporting Kansas City, and earlier this year playing there and at outside back, Latif Blessing has played most of his pro minutes on the wing. But with injuries to some of LAFC’s central midfielders, Blessing has slotted in there, and he has performed very well. Blessing’s pace and his technical ability allow him to drive the ball forward and lead attacks, and rarely turn the ball over. And his work rate defensively allows him to win many balls back, and does not leave a hole in midfield that other attack-minded players might. Blessing is evolving before our eyes, and his presence on the field is becoming crucial for LAFC.
The fullbacks’ consistent play has been very important
Much is made of LAFC’s vaunted attackers, especially the younger ones, but you could argue two of their more consistent players are the two veteran fullbacks, Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey. Frequently the two are either playing in crosses, or making runs on the edge of the opponents’ boxes so they can be involved in an attacking move. They are also skillful and savvy enough to contribute in attack without leaving the team exposed defensively. The fullbacks are the key for keeping the team balanced, and so far they are performing at top level week in and week out.
Both defenses performed well
LAFC got another clean sheet, their 3rd one in a row. They did control much of the play, but at the same time FC Cincinnati had some good chances. Tyler Miller made in particular an excellent save at the end of the first half to keep FC Cincinnati off the board. There were important defensive plays and blocks in the second half as well, in particular by Eddie Segura and Jordan Harvey. For now LAFC have shelved the pattern of giving up a late lead, and now they are just focused on being a good defensive team.
The late heroics continue
True, this was not a game-winning goal, as LAFC had a 1-0 lead, but Carlos Vela kept up the trend of stoppage time goals at home, evading Kendall Waston and doing just enough with his right foot to squeeze the ball past Spencer Richey, the Cincinnati keeper and into the net. This was not a vintage Vela performance, but his goal was impressive in a different way, able to get past the defense and do just enough to get the ball in the net and seal the victory.
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