After losing their Concacaf Champions League opener, Los Angeles Football Club have now won two games in a row, after downing expansion team Inter Miami in the 2020 MLS season opener Sunday by a 1-0 score. Let’s go over a few thoughts immediately exiting the game:
Few changes, but few options
Bob Bradley made just two changes for his lineup after Thursday’s CCL win over Club León, putting in Jordan Harvey at left back and Francisco Ginella in midfield. I think a fair portion of the LAFC fanbase was hoping for more squad rotation, especially with another CCL series coming up, but this fits Bradley’s M.O. with LAFC, so this was as expected.
Looking deeper, LAFC didn’t really have a ton of options in this game. Not only were Adama Diomande and Bradley Wright-Phillips both out, as projected, Danilo Silva was out injured, too, and both Danny Musovski and Adrien Perez were listed as questionable, neither player in the 18. As a result, LAFC’s bench was a goalkeeper, two left backs and four midfielders. Theoretically another few players could have been rotated, but the options were limited. You can complain that’s a flaw of the roster, especially the defense, as well as colossal bad luck that all forwards except the starting front three were hurt. But as far as the practical aspect, of who was available, this was what they were working with, and in this case they made it work. The team looked sleepy and scattered at various points in the game, but in part it was due to the short rest with a small group, and yet they still found a way to win.
About Dejan Jakovic
Since Walker Zimmerman was traded away, we’ve been waiting for LAFC to sign a new center back, given the available options of Tristan Blackmon, Dejan Jakovic and Danilo Silva. Blackmon has been pressed into service as the only true right back on the team on the flank, while Silva has been battling injury. That leaves Jakovic. While I thought his 2018 campaign was better than expected, there remains some surprise that Bradley is going with the Canadian so far this season. Again, the options may be limited, but Jakovic has been pretty convincing in three games — aside from a breakdown in the first game against León that led to the opening goal, he’s been throwing his body around and helping LAFC get two straight clean sheets. He’s playing the ball out of the back more than I can recall seeing him do in his career.
He’s 34, he was never known for having any speed, and the book on him was he could lose his composure at a moment’s notice. But maybe his lack of speed has been fine because he’s not losing any now, and he’s been steady. Is this sustainable? It does not seem like it but three games in, Jakovic is making a lot of people eat their words with his strong play.
Feliz Cumpleaños, Carlitos!
Carlos Vela was the star on the day, elevating a middling-to-poor LAFC performance with a moment of magic to deliver a victory. Sunday was his 31st birthday, and he shows no signs of slowing down with three goals in three games across all competitions to start the campaign.
Sometimes, you need to slug it out and rely on your star. Sunday was one of those days for LAFC, and here’s yet another reminder to you to savor him while he’s doing incredible things like this on a regular basis. Happy Birthday, Carlos.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!