In the third match of LAFC's preseason, the Black & Gold got a little taste of what's to come when the matches matter.
FC Dallas held LAFC to a 2-2 draw in a match split into 30-minute increments. It was a match that was stingy. It was feisty in moments. Both teams battled for every inch of space on the pitch. And it even got a bit chippy.
But those are the type of matches you need in preseason. Especially, when you start the 2020 campaign against a very good Léon team in hostile territory.
There was a lot to take from this match. Let's get right to the takeaways:
Ride The Lightning
It's goals in consecutive preseason matches for Brian Rodríguez. He opened the scoring with a powerful solo run and then forced an own goal later in the match.
Rodríguez has never been shy about taking on his man. But what's stood out in the last two matches is the way he's finishing plays. It's one thing to beat your man near midfield, it's another to beat him to manufacturer a shot inside the box.
In the buildup to his goal, Rodríguez pressed the issue in a tight space but kept his cool. He was under control throughout the entire move, giving himself a chance to finish the play.
His use of dribbling to set up more entries into the box and shooting opportunities bodes well for LAFC heading into Concacaf Champions League play.
Use Of Touches
Matches are starting to pick up speed. And with that, players need to adjust.
Today's match was a good reminder of using the right number of touches for LAFC. FC Dallas found moments, especially in midfield, to get tight. In those instances, LAFC players were forced to be sharp and decisive with their touches. When they weren't, attacks broke down or emergency defending was required of LAFC's backline.
LAFC caused themselves some trouble when they dwelled on the ball in the wrong moments and wrong areas of the pitch. There were times an extra touch was taken instead of playing the next pass and FC Dallas was able to turn its press into offensive transition moments.
The match as a whole was maybe at about 75 percent of the speed LAFC can expect when the games matter. And let's be honest, LAFC has played this preseason without much of its first-choice midfield. But it's good to feel that pressure now and get a sense of how the game is going to pick up.
A Bit Heated
No one likes to get kicked. But it's inevitable.
The physical side of the game is one of the toughest things to replicate in preseason. This contest had more than a few full-blooded challenges.
For the most part, both teams kept their cool. That's important when you consider that in less than two weeks, LAFC will have to deal with being kicked and having 30,000 fans screaming at them.
It was good to see Bob Bradley's team ready to compete both mentally and physically. With a handful of players going the full 90 in the match, the fitness aspect of preseason is coming around. The football is getting there, too. Add a bit of grit earned from this one and LAFC is that much closer to being ready when it matters.