LAFC is facing the worst moment in its young history as a club.
In its expansion season back in 2018, they were a good team. They finished third in the Western Conference but crashed out at home in the first game of the playoffs.
Last year they had the best regular-season any club has ever had in MLS. This season after starting hot in the MLS is Back Tournament, including a 6-2 victory over the LA Galaxy, LAFC crashed out in the quarterfinals against Orlando.
It seems that after that everything has gone downhill since then.
So, what’s wrong?
The most noticeable thing is they are allowing a lot of goals. Last season they allowed 37 goals in 34 games in the regular season. While that is one goal per game, they were still the best defense in the league. So far this season, the Black and Gold have conceded 27 goals in 12 games, which is a little over two goals per game.
So what seems to be the problem?
For starters, losing important players in the defense. During the off-season, LAFC let go of center-back Walker Zimmerman and allowed right-back Steven Beitashour to enter free agency. Coach Bob Bradley has tried defenders Andy Najar and Tristan Blackmon and even midfielder Latif Blessing in that position but doesn’t seem to have a definite player to play there.
Bradley has also pointed out a few reasons why the team has underperformed on the defensive side of the ball including players underperforming, set-pieces, and bad ball possession. In 2020 the team losses the ball up to 20 more times compared to last year. Their passing accuracy has also gone down to 81% from 84% last year.
Missing Atuesta and Vela
Midfielder Eduard Atuesta and forward and captain Carlos Vela are the team’s most important players. This season the team has only been able to count on both of them in two games, due to injuries from both players. The difference between having them on and off the field is alarming, especially in the attack. So far this season, LAFC has scored 25 goals in 12 games which is not bad, but it is still worse than last season where they scored 85 goals in 34 games.
While Carlos Vela might be the best player in this LAFC team, Eduard Atuesta might be the most important one. His ability to control the ball, the game, go forward and trackback to defend is something that this team misses. Let’s not forget Atuesta had an MVP candidate type of season last year.
LAFC currently sits in ninth place of the Western Conference and has 12 games remaining to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Out of those games remaining, the ones that stand out the most are against Seattle, Portland, and the Galaxy.
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