LA Football Club Heads to Kansas City After Colorado Loss
July 4, 2019
Still smarting from a 1-0 defeat to the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park last Friday, LAFC travels further east to try and rebound at Sporting Kansas City this Wednesday. The Black and Gold suffered only their second loss of the 2019 Major League Soccer season, both on the road.
The weather and one-hour suspension early in the second half added to their woes against the Rapids, previously in last-place in the Western Conference. LAFC's current two-game road trip comes full-circle as Colorado has been replaced in the Conference cellar by Sporting KC.
LAFC will now have to endure a four-match stretch in 10 days beginning at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City. The next two are home games: an MLS match with the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday, 7:30 p.m. July 6 and a Wednesday, July 10, U.S. Open Cup clash with the Portland Timbers. They finish up at BBVA Stadium against the Houston Dynamo on Friday, July 12.
LAFC, with 39 points, remains five points ahead of Philadelphia Union for the Supporters' Shield race for best record. They are six points ahead of second place L.A. Galaxy in the Western Conference. Their 7-0-1 home record at Banc of California Stadium is the best in the league.
Their 11-2-4 first-half season start is still on pace to set the league record for most points. The New York Red Bulls broke the record just last season with 71 points, having topped 2017 record setter, Atlanta United. LAFC also leads the league is goals scored with 39 and goals differential with +25, with the Red Bulls in second at +10.
"Tonight, we weren't sharp. Our tempo was way too slow," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley after being shut out by the Colorado Rapids. "We did put more into it after the weather break. But when we needed to make a play, came up short all night."
After a scoreless first half, Rapids defender Danny Wilson headed the game's lone goal from the far post on a well-placed corner kick by midfielder Jack Price in the 49th minute past LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega. It was Sisniega's MLS debut for the Black and Gold after having registered wins in the team's previous two matches for U.S. Open Cup competition.
The match was suspended minutes after Wilson's goal when lightning storms moved across the Denver area. Yet, it was LAFC's lethal offense that failed to convert on numerous scoring opportunities after both teams returned to the pitch following more than an hour of delay.
Bradley: "It's frustrating to start the second half and six minutes later go back inside. So, I'm not sure why they started the half but that's not a factor."
LAFC defender Tristan Blackmon agreed about the match delay's effect on the outcome: "Not so much. We were able to get on the field to try to fight back into the match... Obviously they scored on that corner and it was hard for us to fight back."
"I think we were slow in the first half finding movement in the midfield and creating advantages for ourselves. I think after the rain delay, we stepped it up a little bit."
Colorado goalkeeper and former U.S. National team member Tim Howard earned player-of–the-match honors with several excellent scoring saves while anchoring the Rapids compressed defensive formations. The future Hall-of-Famer has a total of 121 caps for the USMNT and has been on every U.S. World Cup team since 2002.
Bradley substituted Mohamed El-Munir for defender Steven Beitashour and Adrien Perez for forward Adama Diomande in the 52nd minute. The moves opened up the pitch for LAFC but the failed to produce the equalizer. The team dominated Colorado in possession: 65.6 to 34.4%; total passes: 564-288; passing accuracy: 86 – 76% and total shot attempts: 12-7.
LAFC had a total of only three shots on goal, one by Rodolfo Zalaya and two by Diego Rossi. The last shot by Rossi from inside the penalty box sailed harmlessly into the secure hands of Howard just before the end of stoppage time to seal the match. LAFC's only other defeat this season was also a 1-0 shutout loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, April 17.
"When teams set lower blocks, it is more difficult for us to find spacing in front of the defense to create lanes to pass through and the ability to take shots," said Blackmon.
Bradley concluded: "We knew going in this is a tough part of the season. We're a little bit low in numbers. But tonight, it's on us to still try to make more football. We just didn't do enough in the responsibility and that makes the football on us. That's the most disappointing part."