Ten points separate LAFC and its newest competitor in the race for the 2019 Supporters' Shield. But if fans thought the Club would take its foot off the pedal, Walker Zimmerman set the record straight.
"Concentration has been high. I think guys are realizing what we're doing doesn't happen every year. What we're doing is special and I think guys notice that And that kind of helps in our preparation because every game still matters," Zimmerman said leading up to LAFC's match with New York Red Bulls on Sunday. "We're chasing trophies, we're chasing records in points and wins. It presents a challenge each and every game. And it helps guys get motivated every game."
When you read something like that, you know this team means business.
Here are the Toyota Keys to the Match for LAFC's hosting of the New York Red Bulls:
Last week, LAFC earned its first clean sheet in MLS in more than two months. And it was on the road against a team in the midst of an 11-game unbeaten run.
The Black & Gold clearly know how to defend. They lead MLS with just 23 goals conceded through 23 matches this season. But whether it's mistakes, a lack of focus, or even just bad luck, LAFC's opponents have been getting into the box more often and engineering more chances.
It's time to get back to what got you there. LAFC needs to clamp down on opposing sides. That means a great focus on space even when they have the ball. LAFC is at its best when it suffocates opponents going forward to the point they simply can't get out of their own end clearly. Couple that with renewed tenacity in and around their own box and LAFC will start to see zeros in the opponents' scoreline once again.
Always Be Scanning
Teams that press are opportunistic. For the most part, they feast on mistakes more than actively taking the ball from opponents.
NYRB is going to look for bad touches and lapses in concentration to create transition moments. LAFC players have to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Check over your shoulder, then the other shoulder, and then once more. The Black & Gold has to be tidy in possession and know where the next touch is going.
If they can keep a mental picture of where the opponent is and where they are coming from, they'll be able to play the next pass and escape into space. The more that happens, the more NYRB will wear out on the chase.
Dio Starts The Merry-Go-Round
When Adama Diomande is on form, this team is unstoppable.
Carlos Vela is the MVP but Diomande is the one opens avenues. LAFC needs to get him off his marker and facing up the defense. When he finds a way to make the ball stick and forces players to deal with him, Vela and Diego Rossi are already on the run. And if the teams sell out to stop either of those two, then Diomande has the ability to rush forward and finish.
LAFC should look to him as a reference point early to get him his touches.