For the first time in the 2019 season, Los Angeles Football Club looked off-beat as they underwent their first loss, a 1-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps. With multiple lineup changes, in the midst of three games in eight days, the black-and-gold were out hustled and out-worked up north. But how exactly, did the team grade on the field? Let’s take a look!
For 351 minutes, LAFC hadn’t allowed a goal, this in part to the exceptional play of the backline and goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
This run came to an end when Inbeom Hwang scored his first MLS goal in the 27th minute. Hwang scored after Vancouver winger Victor Giro placed a shot off the post that landed at his feet. Hwang, then perfectly placed a quick low shot away from Miller.
But, besides that goal, Miller showed up whenever his name was called. In the 14th minute, after a cross from a corner was deflected away, Yordy Reyna ripped off a volley that was sent away by a perfectly thrown Miller.
And only minutes after the 2nd half kicked off, Vancouver’s Lucas Venuto found himself in a one-on-one situation with Tyler Miller who kept his composure and denied Vancouver’s opportunity at adding a 2nd goal.
Overall, Miller was probably LAFC’s best player and a key reason they only lost 1-0 and not 2-0 or 3-0. The only thing missing from Miller was him moving upfield in stoppage time to provide more of an offensive threat on the final possessions.
On Wednesday night, Shaft Brewer, Jr. and Niko Hamalainen made their first start of the season, Danilo Silva made his second. This possibly has to do with head coach Bob Bradley wanting to give key players some well-needed rest.
However, these changes proved to be catastrophic as the backline for a majority of the time looked disorganized.
They were unable to play from behind and constantly struggled to move the ball upfield. Brewer and Hamalainen didn’t have the best possible game but, the season is long and this is the best way for them to learn and grow — on the pitch.
The bright spot of the defense was Eddie Segura, who continues to be LAFC’s best pick-up of the offseason. With Zimmerman not making the trip to Vancouver, Segura had big shoes to fill on the backline and he delivered. He was quick on his reads, he covered for teammates, and was a backbone for the young guys to rely on.
If LAFC plans to play well on beyond October, they must make it a priority to keep him on the roster come June.
Much could be said about LAFC’s midfield, Lee Nguyen and Andre Horta are still hurt, but Latif Blessing, a winger from last year, is doing surprisingly well in the midfield, Eduard Atuesta has been remarkable and consistent all season, and Mark-Anthony Kaye has looked great after coming back from a devastating injury that derailed his 2018 season.
However, on Wednesday night, much like the rest of the team, the midfield struggled to produce any real threat.
Peter-Lee-Vassell, the 40th pick in the MLS SuperDraft made his first start and will hopefully put it behind him quickly. The midfielder who has made multiple appearances for the Jamaican national team looked lost on the pitch.
Vassell was constantly losing the ball, getting blown by, and his best moment was in the 44th minute when he managed to get a shot off inside the box that Vancouver’s goalkeeper was able to handle with ease.
Blessing, who has caused trouble to opposing teams, was fouled multiple times in the first half which led to him being subbed off in the 42nd minute for Kaye. With the injury bug already taking its toll on the black-and-gold, let’s hope it’s nothing serious.
LAFC’s starting striker and USMNT call-up Christan Ramirez was nowhere to be found for 65 minutes. He completed 8 passes, had 1 recovery and similar to the previous game he started he attempted no shots.
Diego Rossi had zero to no impact on the pitch and furthermore proved that he disappears when LAFC struggles. Carlos Vela wasn’t his usual self, mainly due to Vancouver double and triple-teaming him as soon as he got the ball.
Nonetheless, LAFC’s best attacks came when he touched the ball. He did, however, have a clear opportunity for goal in the 70th minute after an El-Munir shot went wide, only for Vela to misfire and send it over the bar.
For seven weeks LAFC proved to the MLS that they have the best 1-11. The 12-18 however, were always in question.
And against Vancouver on a short week, head coach Bob Bradley took this opportunity to give various reserve players some much-needed playing time. To say the least, it wasn’t the best showing from the young guys, but it was something that had to be done.
The starting lineup had seen minimal changes through seven weeks and it was time for Bradley to figure out how good LAFC depth is. One could argue that giving one of the forwards some rest would have been better, but with many offensive players already hurt, Bradley worked with what he had.
LAFC suffered their first loss of points on the season, but luckily it was to Vancouver and not Seattle or Houston.
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