Los Angeles Football Club bounced back nicely from their first loss of the season, with a great 4-1 win over a slightly undermanned but still formidable Seattle Sounders team. Here’s what caught our eye in this game:
Carlos Vela double teamed early, scores anyway
Double-teaming a player inherently comes with risks, especially against a team as potent offensively as LAFC. Still, with the form Carlos Vela is in, it’s hard to blame Seattle for wanting to double team Carlos Vela. And it worked for about the first 10 minutes, whenever Vela would pick up the ball on the right he was immediately double teamed, unable to cut in on his left foot and take a shot. Vela was forced to give up the ball in those situations. But then LAFC broke through, Mark-Anthony Kaye picked up the ball in midfield and played a brilliant through ball to Vela, who took it in stride and hammered the shot in for his 9th goal of the season. Even throwing multiple physical bodies at him, you can only keep Carlos Vela down for so long.
Christian Ramirez dropped a bit deeper than usual, was more involved in the play overall
In the beginning of the season a lot was expected of Christian Ramirez. He had a full offseason with LAFC, got his debut with the U.S. Men’s National Team, and was raring to go to start the season. And he did ok to start. Despite getting on the scoresheet a couple times early, Ramirez often seemed disconnected from play and isolated up top. It also did not help that Adama Diomande was such an impactful player off the bench in his first few games. This game though, Ramirez was a lot more active than he’s been, and he dropped deeper than usual, combining well with the midfield and other attackers, and doing good defensive work as LAFC looked to win the ball back quickly whenever they lost in in Seattle’s area. That pressure eventually lead to LAFC’s 2nd goal, as Ramirez pressured a Sounders defender who tried to play the ball out but it was blocked by Kaye, and then picked up by Eduard Atuesta, who drove toward goal and hit a great finish for a 2-0 lead. Ramirez was then himself rewarded with a goal after lovely play with him and Kaye. It was great to see Ramirez more involved in the play overall, and it paid off for him and the team.
LAFC midfield excels again
A part of the team that was a bit uncertain coming into this year for LAFC was the midfield. Benny Feilhaber left for Colorado, Kaye was coming off a broken ankle, in just his second year in MLS, and Andre Horta was disappointing in his time with the team last year. But the midfield has been a revelation so far this season. Eduard Atuesta has really come on, from a good season last year. Kaye looks as good as new coming back from his injury, and Latif Blessing, taking over early for an injured Lee Nguyen, has been sensational so far. The midfield played a part in each of the 4 goals for LAFC, the 2nd scored by Atuesta, and the 1st and 3rd goals brilliant through balls from midfield that were finished off by Vela. The 4th one might have been the most special one of all, with Ramirez playing a lovely back heel with Kaye, and then Kaye played him through for Ramirez to slot home. It was a dominant display again by the midfield, over one of the better teams in the West.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense
For those of you familiar with LAFC, you will recall last season they had a nasty habit of getting ahead in games and then blowing leads. So far this year they have not had that issue. While they defense individually and overall has definitely improved, LAFC have also just not stopped scoring, frequently putting four and five goals past teams to put games away. It’s harder to blow leads if the leads you are getting ahead by three and four goals.
Setting the pace in the West
LAFC’s main goal this is to win MLS cup. Undoubtedly they would like to with the Supporters’ Shield as well. Right now they are setting the pace for that, but their strong form is not just about the path to the Shield. With the change of the format for MLS Playoffs, it is more important than ever to get a top seed so you can have home games in the playoffs. Banc of California is such a great atmosphere, and LAFC will need to keep performing if they want to play there during the playoffs.
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