LAFC 3, New England Revolution 3
April 10, 2021
In the final tune-up for the regular season, LAFC played the New England Revolution to another tie, coming from behind and evening the match on a late goal from Eddie Segura in the 84th minute.
The Black & Gold now take on Austin F.C. in the expansion club’s first-ever MLS match on April 17 at Banc of California Stadium at 2:30 p.m. on FOX.
Last week in its preseason match vs. New England, the Black & Gold started off hot, pressuring the Revolution on multiple shots but not being able to convert those opportunities. Today, it was the Revolution who got off to a quick advantage, getting on the board in just the second minute capitalizing on an LAFC error and then scoring just five minutes later to take an early 2-0 lead.
“For us today, it was a terrible start to the game,” Bradley said. “New England stepped up to press, and we were very slow. We played right into their press – right into their hands in the early minutes and very quickly gave up two goals.”
Eddie Segura mis-played a ball that Adam Buksa ran on to and slotted past LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, and then Matt Polstar fired a low shot from about 18 yards out that found the net, again taking advantage of an LAFC miscue.
“You can’t start a game like that,” Bradley said. “Some of the decision making in the back, let us down.”
LAFC stormed back to tie the match with second half goals from Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela, once again showing the determination that Bradley is proud of us with his team.
“We pushed the game in the second half, to get to 2-2,” Bradley said. “When you have fallen behind with a poor start and you equalize early in the second half, you’ve got to use the momentum at that point to finish the game.”
The Black & Gold was unable to do that – allowing the Revs to take the lead again in the 61st minute on a Carlos Gil penalty kick before Segura whacked in the equalizer in the 84th minute.
“Again, it was a pretty good effort by us to push back into the game,” Bradley said. “So we take a 3-3 tie with some positives, but certainly, we know that there still are a few too many moments where we are a little bit careless a little bit of treating plays without the necessary understanding of the situation and the moment and we’ve gotten into trouble.”
A NET DECISION
Kenneth Vermeer started and played the first 61 minutes in goal for LAFC, making several saves while also allowing three New England goals. The competition remains open between Vermeer and Sisniega in terms of who is going to start in goal for the season opener vs. Austin.
“These two guys, [Sisniega and Vermeer] obviously are pretty even,” Bradley said. “Each one has their own strengths so those are things we consider as we make decisions.”
Last season, Sisniega made 15 MLS starts, while Vermeer closed out the year in goal during the Black & Gold’s run to the Concacaf Champions League Final.
Bradley is not concerned with locking in a full-time starter at this point in time, however.
“I think the real answer will come as we get into the regular season,” Bradley said.
LATIF CHANGING THE GAME
As LAFC prepares for the 2021 season, several players have enjoyed a solid preseason. Bradley was happy with the continued development and play of young, former LAFC Academy players Tony Leone and Erik Duenas, but continues to be impressed with the way Latif Blessing has returned from a difficult 2020 campaign.
“It has been a good preseason for Latif,” Bradley said. “Like a lot of players, he had an up-and-down time last year. I didn’t think his focus was always where needed to be.”
Blessing did appear in 21 games in 2020, making 18 starts, but was forced to play all over the field – including out of position at right back and was limited to one goal – his lowest offensive output in his MLS career.
“The Gamechanger” scored a career high six goals and had six assists while playing in all 34 games in a record-breaking 2019.
Blessing admits he is already in a better place mentally, as it was difficult last season to be far away from his family in Ghana, without knowing when he would be able to see them again.
“Lots of things have changed,” Blessing said. “This year I will be ready. Last year, it was hard to do my best, and I know I have to do my best and be ready for this year.”
According to Bradley – expect big things again from one of the smallest players on the roster.
“I think he has had a good preseason,” Bradley said. “He also had a good game today.”
BAIRD GETTING BETTER
LAFC added the 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year in Corey Baird this past off-season to a record-breaking attack that features two Golden Boot winners in Diego Rossi (2020) and Carlos Vela (2019). Real Salt Lake traded Baird after he scored a career-low two goals last season in 21 games, after he managed to score 13 goals in 62 games in his first two MLS seasons.
The Escondido native is filling the big shoes left by one of the most prolific scorers in MLS history, Bradley-Wright Phillips, who recorded eight goals and six assists for the Black & Gold in 18 games last season before leaving as a free agent to join Columbus.
“I think Corey is developing a good understanding with Carlos and Diego,” Bradley said. “He’s still a direct threat, has speed and he is a guy that when we lose the ball, he helps us press and win balls back. So, hopefully that understanding can continue to grow, and he can be a good part of a dangerous front three.”
LAFC signed Korean international defender Kim Moon-Hwan on Jan. 11. The 25-year-old joined the Black & Gold after a successful stint in the top league in Korea, while also emerging as a rising star on the well-respected South Korean National team.
Moon made his LAFC debut vs. New England on April 3 in the preseason, playing 30 minutes as he continues to move into game form as he continues to recover from a lingering, not serious knee injury that he carried with him when he came to L.A.
Moon did not dress and did not see action on April 10 vs. the Revs, as the club continues to treat him carefully in his recovery.
“It’s not a serious injury with Moon,” Bradley said. “But it has still slowed him down, so he was not in full training this week.”
Bradley said that Moon came in to training camp with a minor knee injury and has been brought along slowly throughout the preseason by the training staff.
“That is where we are this point,” Bradley said. “He will continue to keep working.”