LA Football Club Drops Game to Minnesota United 2-0
Face Orlando SC This Saturday
September 5, 2019
LAFC... you may have a problem. For the first time all season, Los Angeles Football Club's domination of the league is in doubt. After having failed to secure in a win in their last two home games at Banc of California Stadium the Black and Gold hope to reignite their swagger this Saturday, Sept. 7, on the road against Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium.
LAFC unexpectedly suffered a 2-0 loss to Minnesota United FC at the Banc last Sunday night. Despite taking the pitch without the league's obvious MVP, Carlos Vela, they controlled possession of the ball for over 75 percent of the match, all in a futile effort. They passed the ball to and fro, left and right, up and down... yet they couldn't find the back of the net.
"I thought we started off the game with good tempo, so I was satisfied that we were finding good ways to move the ball, mixing up right and left," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley.
"Would it help to have Carlos out there in those situations? Of course. But, there were enough moments tonight where I think we created the possibility... that little bit of sharpness of that final play wasn't there."
What is apparent in the last roughly 150 minutes of play without the services of Vela, the team is not only lacking a leader in goals and assists, but a leader in setting up teammates on the field. With Vela, LAFC's 62 total points through 28 games had put the rest of MLS on notice by threatening to establish a new best league record while chasing the record for total goals scored by a team in a single season.
When Vela left the pitch two matches ago against the L.A. Galaxy due to hamstring issues, the team failed to capitalize on the momentum in erasing a two-goal deficit. For the next 30-plus minutes they had their rival on the ropes but couldn't put them away. Against MNUFC, LAFC spent the entire match around the Loons penalty box. Yet, it never felt like they would score.
Minnesota forward Mason Toye stunned the home crowd with a sudden strike from the right side past LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega for a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute. Sisneiga was substituting for Tyler Miller who had a challenging time in giving up three goals in the previous match to the Galaxy. This time Sisniega was the one who was out of sync with his defense and vice versa.
"The first one he (Mason Toye) hit it from a tight angle. He had a good shot. And the second one I need to see it again," said Sisniega.
Toye's second goal four minutes later was a beautiful shot from outside that was not going to be denied. Sisniega could have seen the shot a hundred times again and it wouldn't have mattered. The 2-0 lead felt like a 5-0 lead, given the nature of LAFC's flowing but sterile offense without Vela.
"Adrian (Heath, MNUFC head coach) told us all this week that as good as LAFC is they leave themselves really exposed," Toye said. "They leave us 2v2 up top a lot and almost 1v1 sometimes at the top because they commit so many numbers forward."
Heath: "I didn't expect the two goals and certainly not the second one. I thought the first one was a magnificent finish but I think the second took everybody by surprise, even the keeper."
Orlando on the road is another expected win. But so was the last match at home. Orlando is currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, four points out of a playoff spot with five matches remaining to be played. They have only won two of their last nine matches and have lost their last two. Geographically and statistically, LAFC and Orland are miles apart.
The Black and Gold have 19 wins this season compared to nine for OCSC. LAFC has suffered four total losses to Orlando's 13. They have scored 74 goals compared to 35 goals scored, and have also twice as many shots on target for the season, 202 to 105. Vela leads the league with 27 total goals scored. Nani leads Orlando in goals scored with nine. He also trails Vela in assists: 15 to 9.
LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman stressed that the team wasn't going to change the way they do things, regardless of their form over the past two matches: "I felt like it was a good week of training, guys were into it, obviously trying to bounce back from a disappointing tie, so the focus was there all week."
"We had a decent start to the game, and then, the first real chance that they got resulted in a goal and that makes it difficult, then knowing that they're going to be sitting deep and figuring out how to break them down."