It's not mentioned much but you've got to admire the way LAFC responds to adversity. The Black & Gold have lost consecutive matches only twice in Club history.
This season, LAFC has just two losses in total. And they've gone no more than two matches without a victory. It's one of the reasons Bob Bradley's team has been so dominant in the first half of the MLS season and is on pace for a historic points total.
That resolve will be put to the test in the next couple of weeks. After falling to a disappointing 1-0 loss in Colorado last Friday, LAFC has a quick turnaround as part of five matches in a 15-day stretch. Heap injuries and international call-ups on top of that, and LAFC's historic aspirations may very well depend on how they manage these next few matches.
But right now, Bradley has his side focused squarely on the task at hand. Here are the Toyota Keys to the Match for LAFC at Sporting KC:
Up The Tempo
Talent can only take you so far. When you allow teams time to adjust during the course of play, they are going to find ways to stop you.
In Colorado, LAFC had plenty of the ball but the movements were lethargic. The opposition simply had to shift its lines to one side to the other with no real penetration by LAFC.
The tempo has to be raised both in practice and in thought. That means quicker passes and quicker decisions. If the run is already formulating ahead of you, get the ball there quickly. If you have space to dribble to draw defenders, then go right away. Recognize the spaces and anticipate openings to play into. The more LAFC unbalance Sporting KC, the more clear opportunities they'll create.
Sporting KC is a side with aspirations in possession. They like the ball and like to use it.
While that might be a welcome change to some of the sides LAFC has faced, they'll need to be sharp in dealing with SKC in possession.
Peter Vermes' team will work in tandem to move LAFC's defenders. SKC will try to space the field and then make runs to lure LAFC out of position. The Black & Gold will need to be astute in how they pick up marks and when to not vacate dangerous areas for the sole purpose of closing down runners. An overaggressive step forward could result in SKC exploiting space in behind.
LAFC will have to stay connected and work from front to back on the defensive half to keep SKC from finding easy access to spaces behind the backline.
Make A Play
Within the scheme of LAFC's game model, there's more than enough from for individual creativity.
At the end of the day, players have to be willing to express themselves on the pitch. In Colorado, there was too much passivity from LAFC. There was no bite in their actions. There was no sharpness.
LAFC has flourished this season by putting teams under constant pressure. In most cases, the opposition cracked. Against SKC, the Black & Gold need to ratchet up that pressure. Get on the ball and play with intention. Look for windows, make hard runs, and respond when the ball turns over.
If LAFC can turn this match into a series of actions in which they are the impetus, they'll be back to winning ways.