Fresh off its biggest win of the season 4-0 against Vancouver, the Philadelphia Union travel to Banc of California Stadium on Saturday to take on LAFC.
The Black & Gold are on a four-match win streak in all competitions following a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew last weekend. Bob Bradley's squad will look to keep pace with the Western Conference leaders by earning another three points and continuing its unbeaten streak at home. Here are the Toyota Keys to the Match against Philadelphia:
Get Off To Another Quick Start
Two goals in the span of eight minutes, and you can't get off to much of a better start than LAFC had against Columbus.
This week at training, Bob Bradley and his squad emphasized the importance of controlling matches from the opening whistle and putting opposing teams on the back foot. "I think you want to start the game with good energy, you want to pick good moments to press, and you want to put the game on your own terms. And that doesn’t always mean you get goals right away,” Bradley said.
Dictating play at home is what the best teams do across the League. If LAFC want to be considered among the best in MLS, they need to continue to make Banc of California Stadium an uncomfortable place for opposing teams from the first minute to the 90th minute.
Don't Drop Off
At times this season, Bradley has been upset with his team for failing to step forward and squeeze opposing teams in their half of the field. In Borak Dockal, Fafa Picault, and Ilsinho, Philadelphia has the type of players in midfield that can carve up retreating defenses either on the dribble or with a pass.
LAFC plays best when they force teams into quick decisions on the ball. Staying compact and high up the pitch will frustrate Philly's attacking four, while putting the pressure on Alejandro Bedoya and Warren Creavalle close to their own goal.
Make Their Center Backs Work
The Union's go-to center backs as of late have been youngsters Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty. Both are just 19 years old. And they haven't played in an atmosphere like Banc of Califonia Stadium's North End before.
Adama Diomande has four goals in four matches to start his MLS career. LAFC should go right at the heart of the Union defense by feeding Dio. The big striker will force the young defenders to make difficult decisions and press them when out of possession. Even if he doesn't score, he can open lanes for LAFC's other attackers.