It was Marco Ureña providing the scoring once again, as LAFC played to a 1-1 draw with New York City FC on Friday. Carlos Vela saw his first action of the preseason and four LAFC players went the full 90 with a little over three weeks to go before the Club’s historic opening match in Seattle.
Let’s go over four takeaways from the second match of the preseason:
A Friendly By Name Only
It was a match that would have been chippy by regular season standards. NYCFC’s Yangel Herrera set the tone early when he drew a yellow card for a heavy challenge on Latif Blessing, and from there the tackles started flying.
Herrera was seemingly sent off for another crunching tackle later in the half but was given a reprieve thanks to his NYCFC teammates talking the referee down. The two teams then had a bit of a shoving match later, when Marco Ureña received his marching orders for a two-footed tackle on NYCFC’s Maxime Chanot. And that was just the first half.
Both sides will meet again in the regular season on May 13 at Banc of California Stadium. It’ll be interesting to see if any animosity lingers till then.
4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3
Most coaches will tell you the numbers don’t really matter when it comes to formations because there are so many determining factors. Teams might attack in one formation but set up without the ball in another. And so on, and so on.
Throughout training camp, Bob Bradley has set up his team in a pretty standard 4-3-3 with one defensive midfielder behind two more advanced mids. Against NYCFC, Bradley modified his formation a bit, having his outside attackers in the 4-3-3 drop more in line with the advanced midfielders when LAFC was without the ball.
Latif Blessing and Diego Rossi were the two attackers tasked with this movement. As a result, both players starting positions without the ball were much wider to form the 4-1-4-1, giving them a chance to use their pace near the touchline to run at defenders. In the case of Blessing, the extra width provided a springboard for him to cut inside and set up Ureña for LAFC’s goal in the 16th minute.
As a secondary benefit, the shift in formation allowed Bradley to field Blessing, Rossi, Ureña and Carlos Vela on the pitch at the same time – something he hadn’t done to this point in preseason - without upsetting the balance of his side.
During the week, Bradley said he’d discussed with his staff the possibility of extending a few players up to 60 minutes in the second preseason match. Against NYCFC, four players went the full 90: Vela, Blessing, Joao Moutinho and Tyler Miller.
The week of training leading up to the NYCFC match was the most intense to date. It’s a good sign the players’ fitness levels responded well to upped workload. Look for even more players to see extended runs in the third preseason match.
High Praise For The Rookie
Following the match, NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira made a particular point of congratulating LAFC’s No. 1 overall pick Joao Moutinho for a great match.
The former Arsenal and Juventus man had just finished speaking with reporters when he a beeline for Moutinho, before putting his hand on the rookie’s shoulder and commending him for his play.
After the interaction, a stunned Moutinho could only say “it’s nice to be recognized” with a huge smile on his face.
Moutinho and LAFC now turn their attention to the third match of preseason against Vancouver Whitecaps on Feb. 18.