Shelve those alarm bells. Pack away the pitchforks for another day. I'm on record as saying it just takes one. And while I'm not always right, LAFC proved the adage in emphatic fashion.
A week after its 0-0 draw at home with Chicago, LAFC put three past the Columbus Crew on the road. They weren't all pretty - except that Carlos Vela strike, more on that later - but what mattered most was the mentality the team maintained throughout.
It took 37 minutes for LAFC to find the breakthrough at MAPFRE Stadium. And it took another 51 minutes to secure the second. Through it all, the focus and LAFC's game model remained intact. On the road, and in light of recent results, that's no easy task.
So, while getting back in the goals and three points were important, you may want to bookmark this match and LAFC's attitude towards sticking to its guns as a vital moment in what's shaping up to be a special season.
Here are the takeaways from LAFC's 3-0 win over the Crew:
Stay With What Got You There
It's so easy to change things at the first sign of adversity. That's not Bob Bradley's philosophy though and not the identity he's tried to forge with LAFC.
One of Bradley's biggest complaints after the Chicago match wasn't that the team couldn't score, it's that it got away from some of its trademarks. Whether it was through frustration or lack of focus, LAFC was a step behind the Fire in the second half. They lacked that bite and determination you see in the world's best teams.
In Columbus, the Black & Gold weren't so demur. They pressed the Crew and reacted to turnovers without hesitation. For a team struggling to find the back of the net, they didn't put their heads down. And in the end, the resolute style of counterpress and definitive action kept Columbus from ever getting comfortable. LAFC held the Crew to 76% passing accuracy and just one shot on target. In fact, if you look at the stats from this match, you might have guessed it was LAFC that was at home.
This Club's DNA has always been about doing what they do best even when things don't come easy. They reasserted that DNA in Columbus.
Taking Advantage Of Mistakes
Whether it was the pressure from LAFC or just an off day, Columbus was full of errors on Saturday.
LAFC failed to cash in on the errors early. But for a team that is resolute in playing out of the back, the Crew couldn't afford the number of times they cheaply gave the ball away in their own half. The result was an LAFC team seeing a majority of the ball and growing in confidence. Not something you want to gift to this team.
Eventually, the mistakes sealed the Crew's fate.
Sure, the chance is created by Josh Pérez's pressure (and yes, Pérez should have tucked it away on his own) but Jonathan Mensah's miscommunication with Joe Bendik couldn't have come at a worse time.
Thankfully for LAFC, Adama Diomande made no mistake about it.
Opposing Subs Change The Match
Adama Diomande and Federico Higuain both started this match on the bench. The way things were going for their respective sides, you know they had to be chomping at the bit as the watched the proceedings.
For Higuain, Crew head coach Caleb Porter wasted no time getting his No. 10 on the pitch after the interval. Higuain ran out from the start of the second 45 and immediately provided an outlet for his team in attack.
Residing in that pocket of space just in front of LAFC's backline, Higuain was a foil to Gyasi Zardes's frontrunning style. The Argentine calmed things for the Crew in attack and provided some quality combinations. He was the catalyst in all the Crew's best moments and had a knack for picking up dangerous positions against LAFC.
Bob Bradley had a change of his own that affected the match. Adama Diomande entered for Christian Ramirez, providing LAFC with an attacking outlet of its own. With Higuain starting to tip the scales towards Columbus, Diomande frequently checked off the Crew backline and helped LAFC get forward with his holdup play. He has a way of taking passes on the half turn and sealing off defenders before playing in LAFC's wide attackers. It was a definitive counterpunch when it looked like the Crew might be able to create advantages with sustained pressure on LAFC.
Another Clean Sheet
I wrote about LAFC's defensive solidity this week. And once again, the team made me look good.
Full credit to Steven Beitashour, Jordan Harvey, Walker Zimmerman, Eddie Segura, and Tyler Miller. They were sharp in pivotal moments and did very well to manage the Crew's moments in transition.
Time after time, when the door seemed open just a crack, LAFC managed to slam things shut. Miller stepped up and made a really nice save on Pedro Santos. And the work rate of LAFC's midfield in helping out was exceptional.
It's another notch in the belt of the league's best defense.
I've got your Goal of the Week.
Carlos Vela added to his league-leading tally with his 12th goal of the season. If the Crew had anything left at this moment in the match, Vela went absolutely Mortal Kombat on them with a finishing move.
There's no answer for this. Vela slides past one defender, splits another two with that deceptive acceleration he has. And then when its on his left foot in that area of the pitch, it's automatic.
The Crew could've maybe hung their hats on holding the league's MVP frontrunner quiet in this match. And Vela simply says, "watch this."
In a match that wasn't always pretty, Vela's goal was the perfect bow on three points.