By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

LA Football Club Pulls a Draw Against Chicago

 

George Laase

Los Angeles Football Club player Eddie Segura, left, battles for a loose ball. The first place LAFC travels to play Columbus on Saturday. They return home on Thursday, May 16 to face FC Dallas at 7 p.m.

The rest of Major League Soccer is finally starting to counter LAFC's high-scoring offense with almost a third of the 2019 season already completed. Los Angeles Football Club still has the best record in league with 24 points despite an unexpected 0-0 draw at home with Chicago Fire SC last Saturday night. A match at Columbus Crew SC this weekend could restore their mojo.

The Crew began the season near the top of the Eastern Conference standings with four wins, one tie and only one loss in their first six games. Since April 13, Columbus has lost five consecutive games, two by 1-0 scores while also losing three of their last four by two goals.

This week the Crew will play host to both MLS Los Angeles franchises. Third-place L.A. Galaxy, licking its wounds from a 3-2 loss at New York Red Bulls last Saturday, visits Mapfre Stadium this Wednesday night. Compounding matters, a suddenly hungry LAFC squad arrives three days later, Saturday, May 11.

Offensively and defensively, the teams are headed in opposite directions. LAFC leads the league in scoring with 26 points compared to only nine goals for the Crew. LAFC is tied with Atlanta United FC in conceding the least amount of goals at eight. Columbus' 14 goals allowed ranks in the middle of the pack and in three matches they have given up at least three goals.


LAFC forward Carlos Vela, MLS Player of the Month for both March and April and only the seventh player in league history to win the award in consecutive months, leads the league with 11 goals scored. Teammate Diego Rossi is tied for fourth in the league with six goals. For Columbus, forward Gyasi Zardes leads the team with three goals followed by midfielder Pedro Santos and defender Gaston Sauro with two goals each.

There wasn't a hint of Black and Gold victory smoke wafting through Banc of California Stadium in a scoreless 0-0 draw with Chicago Fire SC last Saturday night. LAFC (7-1-3) failed to win at home for the first time in six games this season. They have been held scoreless in two of their last four matches and scored only one goal in a draw with Seattle Sounders FC last week.

"I thought we had pretty decent tempo in the first half, some pretty good attacking ideas," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "I don't think we had our best passing night, with a lot of numbers back, finding the right pass, the quality of the pass, that definitely hurt us."

LAFC dominated on the field and the stat sheet but couldn't capitalize on 10 total shots in the first half. Crew goalkeeper David Ousted blocked four shots, two of them on goal. Vela had his shot from the center of the box blocked in the 9th minute. Defender Jordan Harvey missed high from the left side of the box in the 10th minute.


LAFC's barrage resumed but couldn't convert in the 28th minute when Harvey had a shot blocked and a shot saved. Forward Christian Ramirez was blocked right in front of the goal before Harvey missed to the right of the goal. Eduard Atuesta and Rossi, twice, also missed wide minutes later. Atuesta had another shot attempt blocked in stoppage time.

"Teams come in and they change their whole style of play to combat ours. At times, we've broken teams down," said Harvey. "Again, getting those early chances, we need to finish those. And then, I think the game would come easier for us."

The Banc of California Stadium started celebrating prematurely eight minutes into the second half. LAFC defender Steven Beitashour temporarily scored the game's first goal on a brilliant pass from midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye. A late flag rescinded the goal as Beitashour was ruled offside.

Columbus further relied upon their defense as the second half waned, frequently disrupting LAFC's passing lanes and horizontal attacks. LAFC had numerous opportunities by controlling the ball 63.6% of the time with 88% passing accuracy. They produced 22 total shot attempts but only five were on target. 12 shots were off-target, consuming time and energy.

One bright spot for LAFC, goalkeeper Tyler Miller and the defense registered its fourth clean sheet of the season. Miller is slightly ahead of last year's total of 10 shutouts in 33 games played. He is tied for fourth in the league in shutouts and leads with a low of 0.73 goals allowed per game.

Bradley: "We created some but I would certainly say that the passing part of it, the decision-making part of it, which is so important to open a team like that up. Ideas, yes, but still the execution at times was not as sharp as it needed to be."

"If we score one goal in that first half, I think it's a three or four goal game," stated Ramirez, unfazed by the team's recent scoring drought. "I think we're still playing our football and it's a long season. We know there's going to be stretches where it's not always going to be a 4-0 game but we just have to continue to play our style and believe in it and it will come."

 

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