The Steve Cherundolo era at LAFC has officially begun. The black and gold took the pitch for the first time this year, as they kicked off the preseason with a match at home against 2021 Supporter’s Shield winners, New England Revolution. Today’s match was far less about the result, and more about getting a look at what LAFC will look like as they head into a new era.
While today may not have been about results — preseason being the only time in the year where they don't matter — it was about getting an early look at what is a fairly new LAFC roster. With several familiar faces now gone, several new additions to get used to seeing, and a new head coach, LAFC may not be rebuilding, but they are more different than ever.
The first half of the scrimmage was eventful, but for all the wrong reasons. LAFC defender, Jesús Murillo, was shown a red card and was sent off for the remainder of the match. Luckily, a decision was made to allow LAFC to substitute a different player into the match, to keep it 11 v 11. New England wouldn't need the advantage, as a sleeveless Adam Buksa was able to control a shot that was saved initially, and tapped it in for the lead late in the half.
The second half was for the youth, as LAFC subbed out most of the regular starters, and opted to get a look at several academy players and prospects. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second half, though the Revs came close on several occasions. LAFC were able to find themselves level, after a penalty was awarded, and rising star Mamadou Fall stepped up for the penalty conversion.
As we said before, the final score doesn't matter, thankfully. It should also be noted preseason is the time where tactics are tried, worked on, and re-worked before the season officially begins, meaning everything remains extremely fluid. With that, we did get a good look at how Cherundolo plans to play going forward. The team didn't look bad at all, at least nowhere near the lethargic side that often took the pitch in 2021.
The team did really well to press and keep the pressure on New England, stifling a majority of the visitor’s attacks. Passing looked a bit more methodical for the black and gold. Typically the ones to play balls up the pitch and open up attacks immediately, are now a bit more reserved. Not timid, but seemed more willing to play passes laterally before looking up the pitch to send a pass vertically.
If there was one sore spot for the squad in their first match of the year, it was unfortunately in attack. Despite getting a couple of good looks at goal, they never really seemed to threaten the Revs. Opportunities came few and far between for most of the match, with them unable to convert the few looks they did get. Now, again, this is preseason, but it could still be concerning. This was one of the problems for the team last season, unable to convert what was a bounty of chances, ultimately leading to a ton of dropped points and poor performances.
In the end, this is only the first match of the year, at the start of preseason. It would've been far more shocking if the team came out perfect, firing on all cylinders, leaving nothing to focus on going forward. That’s fantasy. The reality is, this is a team that will undoubtedly go through a few growing pains as they grow into this new look and feel. The biggest goal is making sure we work out all the kinks before the start of regular season in February.
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