Having clinched the number one seed in the Western Conference earlier in the week the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) found themselves in a playoff atmosphere Saturday night.
Facing the Philadelphia Union a team that has been chasing them for the Supporters Shield all season but have begun to drop off, LAFC made a comeback for the second week in a row while away from home.
This time a familiar face was there to help the comeback and another lackluster effort on defense reflected a disturbing trend. The 1-1 draw leaves four games in the season with LAFC still in the driver seat to pick up their first trophy and to start the MLS Cup playoffs on the right foot.
Play of the Game
After missing their captain and goal leader Carlos Vela for two games due to a hamstring injury, LAFC had their leader back in the fold and once again he made his presence known.
Down 0-1 in the 43rd minute, LAFC was pushing towards a goal. Mark-Anthony Kaye took a chip shot that beat the Union keeper but hit the goal post, in the scramble Vela was there to put away his 28th goal of the season.
In his postgame comments forward Diego Rossi summed up what having Vela back meant for the team.
“Obviously, Carlos [Vela] is a fantastic player, he’s a world-class player, he’s our captain and he’s our leader. So, it’s always good to have a player of his caliber back.”
Quote of the Game:
Vela summed up his feelings being back on the pitch with his teammates.
“It’s always good to be on the field with my teammates, trying to play good football and trying to win. Today was not the three points but I think the effort of the team was good, we tried until the end to get the three points and we have to keep working to finish the job.”
What’s Going On?
The LAFC defense was a stout group, three clean sheets in three of four games before their August 25th matchup against the LA Galaxy. Since that game, the LAFC backline has been bullied giving up eight goals and leaving the team with -2 differential.
In their last four games, the team is 0-1-3 and the lack of defense has been the main culprit. In those four games, their opponents have scored first three times and in the other game LAFC gave up the equalizer on the very next kickoff.
When Vela went down, the fear was that the offense would struggle, that hasn’t been the case. If LAFC is going to right the ship and be ready for the MLS playoffs it’s going to start with the backline.
LAFC returns home to face Toronto FC on Saturday which could see them narrow their magic number to clinch the Supporters Shield. With Vela back in the fold look for the team to make their big move towards their ultimate goal, the MLS Cup.
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