Diego Rossi Disappointed After Toronto Scores 190921 IMG

4 Takeaways | High Standards LAFC 1 - 1 Toronto FC 9/21/19

Sometimes there's a disconnect. It happens more often in football than other sports. But it definitely isn't unique to this sport.

A team has a disappointing outing. The fans are disappointed. The players are disappointed. Everyone is disappointed. And then a coach comes out, puts on a brave face, and goes over a list of the positives from the night.

You know the drill. The old "I think we deserved better" routine.

LAFC spent over an hour a goal behind Toronto FC on Saturday night. Carlos Vela rescued a point with a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, saving LAFC from its first losing streak at home in Club history. It was his league-leading 29th goal of the season and sixth match in a row with a goal.

But the silver lining ended there.

"We have high standards," Bob Bradley said when asked if rescuing a point was worth celebrating. In light of a five-match run in which LAFC has failed to win, Bradley wasn't about to look on the bright side.

"We could come in and talk about all these positives," Bradley said. "But I still see things in these games, that for me, this time of year, are not quite to the standards that we want."

Here are the takeaways from LAFC's 1-1 draw with Toronto FC:

Looking For A Jumpstart 

Four out of five of the matches during this winless run, LAFC have conceded first. And they've conceded early.

LAFC is still looking for that good start from the opening whistle. And more importantly, sustaining it the entire 90 minutes.

Against Toronto, they didn't concede as early as they did against the Philadelphia Union the last time out but they were clearly second best as the match started to settle in. 

I have to give partial credit of this takeaway to Dave Denholm, the radio voice of LAFC on ESPNLA 710. He said if you put these teams in blank jerseys and you couldn't see the players faces, would you have known which team was which after at halftime? Because Toronto FC was doing to LAFC what the Black & Gold usually do to teams at home. 

Toronto FC passed and controlled the match with their ability to use space. They had LAFC chasing all over the pitch and frustrated going forward. It wasn't really until the second 45 minutes that LAFC got any kind of traction in the match.

Poor Footwork

The lunging! Oh, the lunging!

I've never seen so many players in Black & Gold simply dangle a leg out. It's rare a team has such success dribbling on LAFC. A lot of that was down to footwork.

You've got to keep your feet moving and your body under control. Too many times, we saw a leg go out and a Toronto FC player go right around it and into space. That's not defending. And not what we're used to seeing. 

With Toronto FC doing such a good job using the ball and passing with control, LAFC players lost their discipline at times and it showed. Like the rest of LAFC's play, it got better in the second half, but it was indicative of how poor the first half was in all aspects of the Black & Gold's play.

Man Up In The Middle

Tactically, Toronto stifled LAFC's midfield with a man-marking approach. When any one of Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, or Latif Blessing received the ball, they were immediately met with pressure from Toronto's midfield. As a Toronto player pressured the ball, his midfield partners got tight to the LAFC midfielders without the ball. 

This didn't allow LAFC the usual escape routes through the center of the pitch. When LAFC are able to possess and pass between its midfield three, they keep the team connected. Toronto offered no time and space to those three and the rest of the team struggled to get in a rhythm.

Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, and Jonathan Osorio were everywhere in the match. They swarmed LAFC and it was rare to see a Black & Gold player on the ball in a central area without at least two Toronto players pressuring him.

In the second half, the LAFC midfield looked to the half spaces to find a bit of time on the ball. From there, they found ways to create opportunities for the team and at the very least maintain control of the match through possession. But LAFC wasn't able to find the inside areas they've exploited so effectively this season.

Rodríguez-Vela-Rossi

It was our first chance to see LAFC's three Designated Players on the pitch at the same time. 

Individually, each had flashes. But their chemistry is going to need time.

For one, Carlos Vela is still working his way back to 90-minute match fitness. After missing two matches and a little over 60 minutes in Philadelphia, the LAFC captain going the distance was a good sign. Brian Rodríguez is still learning how he fits into LAFC's system. The Uruguayan is quick and talented on the ball like his countryman Diego Rossi but is still forging an understanding with his teammates.

Rossi has gotten better this season at working inside and combining with teammates. And his ability to receive on the run has been stellar at times. Rodríguez has to add that to his game. Too often, he received at a near standstill with a defender faced up and waiting. Rodríguez can really exploit opponents if he can find ways to get up to speed before the ball arrives.

Rodríguez has the touch and shot to be effective in this league. Once he gets comfortable with the types of runs to make and puts himself in positions to be at the end of the final pass instead of having to create everything from 1v1 situations, he'll fit right in.

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