On Saturday night, LAFC extended their lead atop the Western Conference with the help of three goals, courtesy of Mark-Anthony Kaye, Adama DIamonde and Carlos Vela.
Let’s now take a look at how the team graded on the pitch.
It was a quiet night for goalkeeper Tyler Miller as the Crew only managed to create one shot on target. In the 58th minute Columbus winger Robinho sent a low cross inside the box to a wide open Pedro Santos who shot the ball directly into a well-positioned Miller. This marked Miller’s 5th clean sheet of the season, good for 3rd in the league. Miller has been a consistent presence at goalkeeper for the black-and-gold all season, and will be interesting to see if he can maintain this level play as the season continues. LAFC is now tied with Atlanta at eight goals conceded and are the final two teams yet to break the 10 goals conceded mark.
It was a strong night for the LAFC backline as they quickly closed in on the Crew’s strikers all night. It was a tail of two halves as the Crew managed only one shot during the first half. In the 2nd half the Crew managed to raise the pace as they quickly moved the ball up the field. The Crew began the 2nd half with two quick shots, both that were little to no threat to the LAFC goalkeeper.
As the season rolls forward, opposing teams are attacking the black-and-gold in different ways and formats. Unlike previous matches, where LAFC managed to maintain possession for a majority of the game, this game saw them struggle to hold onto the ball; they ultimately won the possession battle 53-47. With another game on Thursday night it will be interesting to see if there will be any lineup changes to the backlines as the four starters played all 90 minutes.
Game in and game out the black-and-gold midfield is proving to be a formidable threat to the rest of the league. Even on quiet nights where their involvement can be seen as a minimum, Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Latif Blessing have been as consistent as one can wish for them to be. And on the bench are still Lee Nguyen and designated player Andre Horta who are both, hopefully, recuperating from injuries.
Kaye scored his 3rd goal of the season in the 38th minute off a pass from Blessing. The shot, which at first looked like a pass to a streaking Christian Ramirez inside the box, curved in and passed Columbus goalkeeper Joe Bendik into the bottom right corner. Similar to the defense, the starting midfield also played all 90 minutes, as LAFC weren’t able to add the 2nd and 3rd goals until the 88th and 90th minutes, respectively.
What could have gone down as a quiet night for the LAFC forwards quickly changed in the closing minutes as substitute forward Josh Perez jumped on a passed ball that he shot directly into the crossbar; Luckily Adama Diomande landed on the rebound and was able to put the ball into the net for his 3rd goal of the season.
It wouldn’t be long until LAFC found their 3rd goal of the game. In the 90th minute, forward Carlos Vela stole the ball, ran upfield, cut left and shot a curler inside the net, as we have seen many times all season. It was a strong individual performance by the two-time player of the month as he continues his quest for MLS MVP.
With 12 games in, it will be interesting to see when Rodolfo Zelaya makes his MLS debut and how well he will fare in head coach Bob Bradley’s offense.
As the season moves forward teams are starting to find a way to frustrate the LAFC players. After two consecutive draws, the team finally got back on track with a semi-dominant performance against the Crew. The substitutions were at a minimum and will be interesting to see if it affects the players during their mid-week match-up at the Banc of California against FC Dallas.
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