Latif Blessing Dribbling Challenged LAFC vs GAL 200822 IMG

Black & Gold Endgame | LAFC 0-2 Galaxy 8/22/20

LAFC 0 - 2 Galaxy

MLS Regular Season – Game #6

August 22, 2020

 

In this MLS season that started, stopped, paused and now restarted again – LAFC returned to an empty Banc of California Stadium on Aug. 22 to face their inner-city rival Galaxy for the second time this season. Playing for the first time in 21 days after being eliminated in the MLS Is Back Tournament on July 31, it was the Galaxy who came away with the 2-0 win, gaining a measure of revenge after the Black & Gold hammered them 6-2 in the last meeting on July 18 and spoiling the return of Carlos Vela.

 

A RARE GOOSE EGG

In its three year history, LAFC does not lose many MLS regular season games. The 2-0 defeat was the first regular season loss for the Black & Gold in nearly a year, when they fell 2-0 to Minnesota on Sept. 1, 2019 at home. It was also just the third time in Club history that LAFC has been shutout in a regular season match at the Banc, and only the seventh time in three seasons that the Club has failed to score in a regular season contest.

“We just weren’t ourselves,” LAFC defender Tristan Blackmon said. “We were just off today, to be honest. I think it was clear for everyone to see that.”

 

LOOKING IN THE MIRROR

After the 2-0 loss, LAFC head coach Bob Bradley did not mince his words and offered a blunt assessment of the disappointing performance.

“It was a terrible game for us,” Bradley said. “I told the team, it's a day where I'm going to take responsibility because we didn't look like ourselves. We never found any rhythm. The game had no tempo. We weren't dangerous, and we just looked like we were second best throughout the day.”

Throughout LAFC’s history they have been known as a Club that found a way to push the tempo and play their certain “style” of football. Against the Galaxy, that LAFC formula for success was nowhere to be found.

“We had so few guys that played in the way that they normally play,” Bradley said. “So to have a terrible game like that in a derby, obviously, is something where we're looking hard at ourselves as coaches and thinking about all the details in terms of how we've been training lately, why certain guys are not in the form that they need to be.”

In the stifling heat, LAFC started the match out slow, and even when Ethan Zubak scored to give the Galay a 1-0 lead in the first half, they were not able to get things going.

“I thought our passing was poor,” Bradley said.  “When we had chances to take the ball on the move and dribble aggressively, we never really got into the box and dribbled in ways that put their defenders in a real tough situation.”

Now, LAFC will look to evaluate what went wrong and quickly turn things around for a match on Wednesday in Salt Lake.  

“We will look hard,” Bradley said. “This is not what we're all about, and so it's a day where we're very honest with ourselves and -- we are going to find a way to push ourselves out of it. We've been a good team. We're a team that has played at a high level, and a day like today is not acceptable for any of us.”

 

VELA RETURNS – AND THEN DEPARTS

Carlos Vela did not play in the MLS Is Back Tournament, as he stayed in Los Angeles to be with his family and pregnant wife. The 2019 MLS MVP and league record scoring champion had not appeared in a game since March 8, and some of the rust was apparent.

“When a player is out for a period of time, he doesn’t get matches, even when you work hard – it is not possible to be in top form,” Bradley said.

After a relatively quiet – for him, first half, Vela dribbled into the box in the 56th minute and wound up to take one of his standard high-powered shots on net. As he planted with his right foot, something appeared to go wrong, and Vela limped away once his shot was blocked. A few minutes later he would exit the match with an injury.

“He was so excited to play,” Bradley said. “We’ll need at least a day or two to fully assess. [Before he came out], he took a shot. The shot was blocked, so that is usually an MCL-type situation, so that is what we will look at in the next day or two.”

 

SET PIECES AGAIN

LAFC was moments away from advancing to the MLS Is Back Semifinals when Joao Moutinho scored on a header off a corner kick to even the match in stoppage time for Orlando City, eventually falling in corner kicks.

Against the Galaxy on Saturday, LAFC gave up another goal on a corner kick when an open Zubak got his head on a corner kick in the first half.

“We gave up another goal on a set piece,” Bradley said. “We have to look harder at how we defend set pieces. We were very slow to defend when they played the ball back to the trailer coming in.”

Blackmon was also frustrated by LAFC’s response.

“Our defending obviously could have been better,” Blackmon said. “We gave away two goals. Our pressing wasn’t as good as it usually is. We’ve got to get better, look at ourselves and move on to the next one.”

 

BACK AT THE BANC IN THE HEAT

An LAFC loss was not the only thing unusual about this match. The normally rocking Banc of California Stadium was devoid of fans, but their chants and spirit was still in attendance. A large 3252 tifo covered the North End, and fan chants and crowd noise played loudly throughout the stadium, giving the impression that fans were singing their hearts out.

“Usually the crowds here are rocking from before we get here,” Blackmon said. “That’s definitely a huge part for us. It’s a huge change and we miss the fans a lot. We’re looking to make amends with everyone the next game and get it done.”

The heat on field was near 100 degrees at kickoff, but Bradley was not ready to use that as an excuse for the poor performance.

“We love playing at the Banc,” Bradley said. “But I don’t want to use the starting time as an excuse for how poor we were today. We have to take responsibility for that. I also don’t feel that an afternoon kickoff in this heat creates a good opportunity for both teams to play an exciting game, to play a game that has tempo, to play a game where we see two teams really going after each other.”

 

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