A lack of execution. A couple key mistakes. Missing the star player. Missing the supporters’ presence in the stands.
There were several factors that contributed to LAFC’s 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park, and while head coach Bob Bradley emphasized only some of those reasons in the immediate aftermath, the fine margins in the match left the black-and-gold to lament what could have been.
Carlos Vela missed his third straight game as he continues to recover from a quad injury, Bradley telling reporters that the superstar’s status is TBD since the team doesn’t want to risk making the injury worse from rushing him back too quickly.
With Vela out, his Galaxy counterpart, Chicharito, stole the show, scoring the opening goal and assisting on the winner.
Bradley broke down the various defensive miscues on both goals conceded, but also emphasized the team performance was slack at times and cost LAFC points.
“I thought overall the first half we still controlled things, we have some half chances, pushed hard. In the second half scored a really good goal, and then got careless, on a play that starts on the sideline and then on the end line. [Jesus David Murillo] doesn’t do well enough in his part of it, and then late in the game, I was not happy with our collective push to move up the field, lock them in. In certain situations we left too many gaps and they were on top of second balls and then when we went to get tight we were late and we made so many poor fouls late in the game that just allowed the game to slow down and take away our chances to push so I thought at 1-1 we needed to really take control and finish them off, and we just didn’t find a way to do it. So that part we’re not satisfied with.”
Even with the Galaxy scoring early and late, the game was there for the taking for LAFC. After Chicharito’s 11th-minute opener, which was set up on a somewhat freak tackle-assist from Galaxy defender Derrick Williams, LAFC controlled the run of play, putting the Galaxy under tremendous pressure the rest of the first half and finding paydirt with Diego Rossi’s first goal of the 2021 season just after the hour mark.
But part of what made this particular rivalry loss galling was how the Galaxy left the door open for LAFC but the black-and-gold never took full advantage.
“Look, our guys are excited to play in big games,” he said. “We have enough players that have been on the field, in derbies on the field and Concacaf games on the field and important games in the league or the playoffs. Chicharito’s goal, you know, it started on a free kick where I didn’t think when the ball turned over we shut things down, it was a soft foul [we gave up]. When the ball got cleared, we had a chance to break. And Williams had a very hard tackle, we didn’t move out quickly enough so can happen in a game. I thought we kept pushing the game in a very good way in the first half, we changed slightly. At halftime continued to push, scored a very good goal. And then I think we let ourselves down with the sequence that led to the second goal. And when we went down 2-1, our response at that time wasn’t collective enough and strong enough. Again, some poor fouls that allowed them to waste some time and not enough sustained attacking to get back to 2-2.”
And while Bradley didn’t speak about his team’s emotions on the night or trying to match the emotional intensity of the Galaxy, he did admit the loss was a bitter pill to bring back home for the team to LAFC’s supporters.
“We always miss them, but we always know that they’re with us, so we talked before the game, about our fans, about The 3252. We understand that with COVID and some of the protocols that they may not be in the stadium but man oh man we played for them and so when we lose a difficult game, we feel we’ve let them down,” he said.
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