After going unbeaten at home, LAFC succumbed to a late 2-1 loss away from home against the Portland Timbers.
While LAFC could have secured a draw and even a possible win, There were a lot of issues that hindered them in their performance.
Here are three takeaways:
1. Too much………..tinkering
During LAFC’s unbeaten home stand, Bob Bradley set his side up in a 4-3-3 formation.
In that set up, Los Angeles won twice and drew twice claiming eight points out of a possible twelve.
In those four matches, LAFC looked defensively solid and threatening on the attack.
After their opening win vs. Seattle Sounders, LA lost Marco Ureña and Eduard Atuesta replaced him in the starting XI.
With three central midfielders, LAFC looked solid in midfield.
One of the most important things for a team is to establish continuity and chemistry and LAFC looked like there was an understanding developing with the players in that formation.
All of that went out the window Saturday.
Against Portland, Bradley opted to go with a 3-5-2 with Dejan Jakovic inserted as a third center-back with Atuesta dropping out.
That decision stunted LAFC for a good portion of the match.
The away side looked predictable in attack as Portland remained compact preventing LAFC from creating chances down the middle.
Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour did not provide enough width to make this formation work and Portland looked untroubled.
Portland also won the midfield battle as they outnumbered LAFC in the center of the park.
It was only when Jakovic and Beitashour were subbed off for Omar Gaber and Eduard Atuesta that LAFC reasserted control in the game.
The return to 4-3-3 saw them create many more chances and they got an equalizer through a Carlos Vela wonder strike.
The even had a chance to go ahead as Diego Rossi had a point-blank shot that was saved by Timbers keeper Jeff Attinella.
In soccer, it’s great to be tactically flexible, but if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?
2. Poor play in central midfield
Another factor as to why LAFC lost were too many turnovers in midfield.
With Bradley rolling out two central midfielders, they had less numbers in the center of the park 3-2.
As a result, Portland overran LA’s midfield with ease.
They forced LAFC into many turnovers and they caught them in transition many times throughout the match.
It was only when Los Angeles inserted Atuesta that they regained control in midfield.
No situation was more glaring than the build-up to the second goal. Portland bypassed LAFC’s midfield and Samuel Armenteros made a wondrous solo run which led to a world class finish.
LAFC need to stay solid in midfield and they need to stay compact and make if difficult for other teams to outmatch them in that area of the pitch.
3. More Carlos Vela brilliance
When your team looks down and out, you need your best players to show up and take control of the game
In the second half, Carlos Vela was up to the task.
Vela was back to his creative self as he helped put his teammates through on goal.
When the match looked like Portland would win 1-0, Vela hit a gravity-defying wonder shot as the ball floated over Attinella to make it 1-1.
As a result, Los Angeles grew in confidence and Rossi could have made it 2-1.
Armenteros then quickly made it 2-1 straight after Rossi’s chance.
While they lost, Carlos Vela brought LAFC back into the game with an individual moment of brilliance.
The goal increases his tally to seven on the season.
LAFC will look to get back to winning ways when they return home to take on DC United May 26.
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