Sunday, September 27, 2020
7:30 p.m. PT
TV: YouTube TV, Estrella TV
Radio: ESPN LA 710AM, ESPN App, KFWB 980 AM
In this rollercoaster of a 2020 MLS season, LAFC has enjoyed the ups while dealing with more down moments than ever before. The Black & Gold’s last match against Vancouver on Wednesday was unquestionably one of the ride's highest loops. It was a 6-0 rout in which the Club came out firing from the opening whistle, with Dejan Jaković’s header in the 2nd minute earning an LAFC record for fastest goal in an MLS match, and the Black & Gold continued to dominate all over the pitch for a full 90 minutes.
The Black & Gold set all-time MLS records with four goals in the opening 14 minutes and five goals after 33 minutes of play. LAFC’s six goals also tied the Club record for most in a game – a 6-1 victory over Vancouver on July 6, 2019, and set the Club record for the largest margin of victory in an MLS match.
Up next, LAFC faces California rival San Jose Earthquakes, and after LAFC’s 5-1 drubbing during their last meeting a mere three weeks ago, the Club could be primed to continue surging.
The last meeting on Sept 2 produced a result fitting of the all-time series, with LAFC now owning a record of 5-0-0 on a +16 goal differential. The series has provided its fair share of drama, though. Who could forget the traveling sounds of the 3252 in the first meeting of these two clubs on June 9, 2018, when LAFC came back from a late deficit to score two extra time goals to secure the win? There were also fireworks on Aug. 22, 2019 when Earthquake’s Head Coach Matias Almeyda required extra persuasion to leave the field after being sent off in the first half.
The 2020 MLS season has been difficult for San Jose who, after initially making a splash in the MLS is Back Tournament and advancing to the Quarterfinals before being bounced by Minnesota, have yet to earn three points since returning to their home market.
They currently sit with a league worst -21 goal differential and over their last six games, have incurred losses of 5-1 by LAFC (9/2), 7-1 by Seattle (9/10), 6-1 by Portland (9/19) and in their last match, 5-0 to Colorado (9/23). San Jose sits last in the Western Conference with a record of 2-6-5 (11 pts).
Back at Banc of California Stadium for their second straight game, LAFC is looking to start a winning streak of their own.
“We love playing at home. Unfortunately, we're not able to play in front of our fans, but I know they are back home cheering us on,” said veteran defender Dejan Jaković. “It's a special place to play, and you can tell that we've always been a very difficult team to beat at home, and we just need to continue playing well at home and continue to get wins and move up the table.”
With last match’s win, the Club currently sits sixth in the Western Conference with a record of 5-5-3 (18 pts), but only 3 points out of first.
SAN JOSE IN DEPTH
It is no secret that San Jose has struggled mightily this season, as they currently sit dead last in the Supporters' Shield standings, but it would be a real mistake to discount this side. They are a team that will still fight hard, bring ferocious energy and will exert physicality all over the field. In the wake of a 5-0 loss to Colorado just days ago, they will be hungry for vengeance. Their man-marking style is designed to create turnovers and quick counter attacks out of the chaos, and it always remains a dangerous threat to score.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Shockingly, the Black & Gold have yet to put together back-to-back wins in the 2020 MLS Regular Season, and are looking up at a great opportunity to do so.
After Wednesday’s win, LAFC head coach Bob Bradley made a point that while the Club doesn’t have as many wins as they would like - they have still been able to build on some positives.
“So when you go through a tough stretch, it just seems like sometimes, no matter what, you do things that hurt yourselves,” Bradley said. “We've made mistakes. There's been some goalkeeping errors and there's been too many goals off of set pieces. When games come quickly, when there's this one-day travel, we just have still not been as sharp as we can be. We've had stretches in every game where we feel good but other moment where we've hurt ourselves. So we've just got to be more consistent and regain confidence and just keep trying to improve in all areas.”
LAFC WILL WIN IF…
They don’t give San Jose hope. If the Club can put its stamp on the match early, go up a couple of goals and stay sharp, they will find success. It’s imperative to continue to shore up the back line and stay organized, because a turnover here or there, or a bad bounce could prove incredibly costly against a desperate team like the Earthquakes.
SAN JOSE CAN WIN IF…
They can find a way to really ratchet up their defensive intensity. If LAFC gives them a little breathing room and San Jose can hound the Black & Gold relentlessly when they have the ball - they can find success.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
· LAFC striker Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his goalscoring resurgence on the pitch last match against Vancouver, adding his sixth and seventh goals on the year to put him tied for fifth on the league leaderboard. Additionally, his two goals propelled the 35-year-old veteran into sixth place all-time in MLS with 115, passing LAFC Assistant Coach Ante Razov’s mark of 114 in the process.
“I watched some video of Ante the other day and I’m just glad to be in the same conversation as these guys, he was a great striker,” Wright-Phillips said. “Honestly, if I am being real – he has given me an extra bit of life working with him.”
We’ll see how much life Wright-Phillips can muster up against San Jose.
· Bob Bradley gave some further insight into midfielder Eduard Atuesta’s health status Wednesday night when he was asked if Eduard was ready to play a complete game after he started for the first time since July.
“We're still watching Eduard's minutes,” Bradley added. “At around 70 or 75, he felt he was a little tired, and he hasn't had 90 minutes in a long time.”
It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff will look to push his minutes further or stay on the conservative end.
· A final note on San Jose: the current structure of the MLS season, with its compressed games every few days, has been particularly difficult for San Jose to adjust to because of their frenetic man-marking style and the energy exertion necessary to make it effective. It has been tough on all teams to stay sharp when playing four games in 10 days, and being a step slow is even more pronounced in Almeyda’s defending style.