The winning streak against the Seattle Sounders is over, as Los Angeles Football Club tied them 1-1 at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. With the game over, let’s take five reactions from what we witnessed in the Emerald City.
Rough start, quick reaction
LAFC couldn’t have started the game much worse, as a shaky back pass allowed Jordan Morris to score the second-fastest goal in the Sounders’ MLS history, in 45 seconds.
Morris capitalizes on a terrible LAFC back pass to make it 1-0 inside the first minute. pic.twitter.com/5VDK6VRPnB— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) April 28, 2019
On the bright side, LAFC’s propensity to battle back from a deficit continued, as the black-and-gold found a fast response, with Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela linking up to tie it up in the fourth minute.
The talk of the game will likely be what happened after this, but LAFC did not lose, and their quick response showed continued resilience on the field.
Red cards or no?
Seattle picked up two red cards on the day: Cristian Roldan in the 18th minute for a hand to the face of Eduard Atuesta, and Kelvin Leerdam in second-half stoppage time after a DOGSO foul on Rossi.
Somewhat remarkably, it felt like a consensus among LAFC fans was that Roldan’s red card was harsh. To have soccer fans pretty uniformly admit, “Yeah, that was a bum call,” about a player on the other team is unusual. In my opinion, I agree that it was a harsh call, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Roldan doesn’t get it overturned and has to serve a one-game suspension. The league is pretty no tolerance about hands to the face and neck, and as we saw with Steven Beitashour getting a fine for touching the neck rather innocuously on a player trying to mess with him, it may be a case of the rules being a little off.
And Leerdam’s red card? Stone-cold red, no doubt. Although from a selfish perspective, a part of me was hoping they would let the original penalty call stand and leave Leerdam on the field, since that would have substantially increased LAFC’s odds of a win. As it was, however, the VAR review was legit and the right calls were made on that play in the end.
Dealing with the bunker
It’s obvious that moving forward, more and more teams will just start games against LAFC like how the Sounders moved to after Roldan’s red card: With a low block looking to defend first. LAFC have been fortunate in that most opponents this season have opted to play them toe-to-toe, allowing them to steamroll them and build a lead in most games quite early on.
After Roldan’s ejection, the old saw about teams with 10 players playing better seemed to come through, and LAFC struggled to break through the bunker strategy. Frankly, just about every team struggles with that, so it isn’t as though LAFC have a fatal flaw in that department. At the same time, they’ll likely need to spend more time working on how to overcome it, since again, I expect more opponents to sit deep and defend against this team moving forward.
You hate to see it, as Christian Ramirez had the game-winner on his foot in the second half, only to send it over the bar from about a foot out. It was hard to watch, and you could see his agony as soon as it sailed.
It’s true that scorers score, but they also miss. If he can quickly put this one behind him and get some more goals soon, he’ll be just fine.
The day of 1,000 chances
Ultimately, Ramirez’s miss was consequential, but LAFC had seemingly dozens of chances that went begging on the day. Mark-Anthony Kaye had a shot go off the crossbar, Vela was brought down at one point and while the ball flew just wide of the goal could have probably had a penalty, Ramirez had another mishit, Adrien Perez had a shot take an unlucky deflection right in front of goal, and Latif Blessing had two great chances around the corner at the far post, to say nothing of the numerous shots blocked in traffic. All told, LAFC had 21 shots to Seattle’s four, a shocking number until you remember the Sounders played down a man most of the match, but of LAFC’s shots, only five were on target.
So it was a frustrating day, and if LAFC had lost this outright, the frustration would have compounded. As it was, they still got a result on the road, and there was plenty of reason for optimism even if they didn’t have their finishing boots on. Take the point and move on to the next one, I say.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!