LAFC's first real brush with adversity is upon us in 2019. One win in the last four matches - shutout by opponents twice in that span - the Black & Gold travel to Columbus in search of a return to form.
To be fair though, the recent run shouldn't be setting off too many alarm bells at this point. LAFC still sit atop MLS. The best offense, despite the recent dry spell, resides in Los Angeles. As does the league's best defense - LAFC has conceded a league-low eight goals through 11 matches this season.
So, maybe it's just a blip. But it's on LAFC to correct course, regardless.
Here's a look at LAFC's match against the Columbus Crew:
LAFC at Columbus Crew, May 11 at 4:30pm PT
Where To Watch
TV: YouTube TV (coverage starts with Matchday at 2:30pm), KVMD
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980
Official LAFC Watch Party: Bluebird Brasserie
Columbus found themselves in some adversity of their own of the last couple of weeks. Losers of five straight, Caleb Porter's team looks to have adjusted course in midweek with a 3-1 win over the Galaxy. Gyasi Zardes scored in the 27th minute to give the Crew its first lead over an opponent in 566 minutes of play. Federico Higuain and Hector Jimenez added goals before the Galaxy netted a consolation tally late in the match.
What The Team Is Saying
Mark-Anthony Kaye on LAFC's recent run of form: "We knew this season was going to be tough and teams are starting to change up the way they play against us. But that excites us because now we get to work different things and try to get better at certain things that maybe we haven't had to do a lot because other things have been working. Whenever you are trying to make a good team and a good culture, you have to be ready to adapt to certain things and prepare yourself in more ways to beat the opposition. So, it's an exciting week."
Bob Bradley on how much the Crew have changed under new head coach Caleb Porter: "I see them being pretty similar. Key guys, [Gyasi] Zardes and [Federico] Higuain, are very much the same. The way they play 4-2-3-1, their ideas in terms of playing form the back, and defending more in a 4-4-2, I see those things the same. It does take time when there is a change of coach for little things, the coach's personality and small details, to come out.
Projected LAFC Starting XI
(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.
What To Watch For
To Play Or Not To Play: The hot topic over the past few weeks is the way teams have approached stopping LAFC and the Black & Gold's subsequent adjustment to those tactics. Chicago came to Banc of California Stadium deadset on not giving any space between its lines or behind the backline. To do that, teams need to be committed to getting numbers behind the ball for long periods of time. It's easier said than done, but recently, teams have had a modicum of success against LAFC. Is it only a matter of time before LAFC find a breakthrough and teams have to adjust again?
League's Best Defense: Don't look now, but with all the focus on LAFC's offensive prowess, the No. 1 defense in the league has gone under the radar. Through 11 matches, LAFC's .73 goals-against average is on a record-setting pace. So while LAFC may not be scoring at will, opponents aren't finding much joy on the opposite end either.
Getting Rossi On Target: Diego Rossi hasn't scored since his hat trick against D.C. United on April 6. That's six matches without a goal. The Uruguayan is still finding ways to get shots off but has only been on target twice in the last four matches. With teams focusing attention towards Carlos Vela on the right side of the pitch, Rossi needs to find more ways to get inside for higher percentage opportunities. He's broken out of past slumps with a bang, expect him to be lively from the opening whistle against Columbus.