First off, let's start here:
Three takeaways from tonight's match. Feel free to borrow if needed @LAFCvince lol— LAFCOUTLAW (@citycity11) September 2, 2018
1. Vela earned every bit of captains band
2. Back 4 solid as they've been all year, very organized.
3. Lee Nguyen has proved to be an excellent signing. #LAFC #wewantthecup
People are getting in on the fun of takeaways. And these aren't far off from some of my notes from the match.
A nervy but pragmatic start, a second-half flourish, an almost late comeback, and an absolute dagger to kill the match off. That was the shorthand version of LAFC's 4-2 win over Toronto FC.
Carlos Vela got the proceedings started with a fortuitous deflection, and then goals from Diego Rossi and Lee Nguyen in the span of two minutes had LAFC looking home free at 3-0. But with Toronto fighting for their playoff lives, Jozy Altidore bagged a late brace to make LAFC sweat deep into stoppage time. Luckily for the Black & Gold, Vela was there to finish what he started, netting his own brace and putting the match to bed.
- Toronto FC 2-4 LAFC
Here are the takeaways from LAFC's 4-2 north of the border:
Patience Is A Virtue
Not the start to a match we're use to seeing out of LAFC. From the opening kickoff, Bob Bradley's men were much more cautious in possession and their positioning.
Usually, LAFC gain a foothold in matches by dominating possession and moving high up the field. In the first 45 minutes against Toronto, the Black & Gold were happy to stand pat in the back and allow Toronto to play in front of them. And when they did have the ball, LAFC were pragmatic in the numbers they sent forward. It was almost a page right out of Toronto's book, and I think it stunned the home side at first.
Toronto was forced to take up the initiative, while LAFC sussed out attack after attack. It was an effective tactic, as Toronto couldn't get much going in the first half.
LAFC turned off twice, and Jozy Altidore punished them. That has to be pointed out. But for long stretches, LAFC's team effort in defense was fantastic.
Dejan Jaković and Walker Zimmerman, especially in the first half, did a great job of corralling Altidore and forcing him to play backwards. The Toronto striker is so strong, you've got to be careful he doesn't just roll you every chance he gets. As for Sebastian Giovinco, they made sure he wasn't able to get up to speed without a defender harassing him.
Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour pinched in at at the right times to shut off the runs to the channels. And the midfield, led by Eduard Atuesta swarmed all night, in addition to keeping a handle on Jonathan Orosrio.
Again, two goals given up, but when you consider how desperate Toronto were for a win, it was enough to get the job done.
Killer Start To The Second Half
This match was won in the two minutes between the 47th and 49th.
Diego Rossi's sweet volley was perfection on a technical level - notice he got in behind Gregory van der Wiel. While Lee Nguyen's trailing run into the box - created by the selfless movement of Marco Ureña at the near post - was like clockwork. Those two goals shocked Toronto. From there, LAFC just had to manage the match. They nearly let it spiral on them in the end, but that killer instinct on the road with Toronto on their heels is the type of stuff team's need to learn.
Vela Does It All
What didn't Carlos Vela do in this match? Scores an ugly goal, assists on two lovely finishes, and then ices the match with a shot only that lovely left foot of his could conjure up.
But let's talk about his defensive work - so often overlooked this season. Take a look at Vela's contributions behind the ball:
First off, notice where some of these events are taking place. Vela is deep in his own half. And this map doesn't take into consideration the amount of pressures Vela had that led to turnovers.
This was a complete performance from the LAFC captain, and one his teammates will take notice of. Vela isn't the most vocal on the pitch, but when he shows he is just as willing to do the dirty work as he is to dish out assists and get goals at the other end, he's the most important player on the pitch for LAFC.
I'm not huge on statement wins. I'll take the points any day and the lessons that come with them. But I was asked the other day, "What win is LAFC's most impressive?" And I had to think long and hard about that.
Eventually, I settled on the 5-1 win at RSL - still RSL's only home loss to date. That was ages ago though. I think this win takes over that spot.
The football wasn't the best at times. But to go to the home of the defending champs, when they are on the brink, and with Toronto's best 11 - sans maybe Chris Mavinga and Alex Bono - on the field? Add all that up and you've got a huge win. Especially when you consider LAFC had won just once in its last seven road matches.
That's the type of gutsy road performance that will serve LAFC well in the run in to finish the season and beyond.
Bonus Takeaway: Mark-Anthony Kaye On The YouTube TV Broadcast
I hope he plays for many, many more years, but how about Mark-Anthony Kaye making his TV debut?
If you aren't watching LAFC matches on YouTube TV, you've been missing out. And you missed out big time during this match, because the LAFC midfielder was fantastic. Kaye had tons of insight from an inside source and was great breaking down moments in the game. Pretty good chemistry with the whole crew as well.
And LAFC are undefeated with him in studio. Might have to get him in there a few more times before the season's end.