Los Angeles FC and New England had a plan for the match, but neither of them were able to accomplish what they had planned. Sometimes a bad decision or a mistake came in the way and ruined the situation. One thing was clear though, both sides did not have the best day, but in spite of there being few goals, the match was quite interesting.
Possession frequently changed
There were plenty of mistakes in both sides’ game which often led to a change in possession. However, it was not all about the mistakes because there were other factors that were behind this possession occurrence.
Both goalkeepers used airballs in goal kicks, which always has at least a bit of risk of losing it while the team-mates try to receive and control the ball. Also, this always gives a chance for the opponent to steal the ball in a 1v1 duel. In this match, these long balls from the goalkeeper led to a lot of changes in possession.
Revs’ pressing structure
First of all, New England came to this game with the aim to disrupt LAFC’s build-up with a high press, therefore Rowe joined Wright in order to limit the space for the opponent. They formed a narrow shape which took place in between the halfspaces. Whilst the opponent set up quite narrow, the LAFC centre-backs tried to expand the space thus they dropped to deeper and wider areas, as the images show.
In this circumstance, the ‘keeper could choose to pass to one of the centre-backs, but instead of this Miller made a less dangerous choice. This solution came in a form of a free man. As you may see in the image above, Penilla – the left winger – asked to move infield in order to cover Fagundez’s space, therefore the wings became unoccupied which allowed Beitashour – the right fullback – to received the pass in a free position. So, Penilla’s movement looks reasonable, but this time it became counterproductive.
Sometimes Caldwell joined to the front line in order to mark his target man who dropped to help his teammates. In this situation Penilla stayed narrow again, meaning Beitashour was left free on the wing, but this time Miller decided to volley it instead of passing it to the right full-back.
Here is another occasion where Beitashour was free, but Miller decided to go long. The lack of use of the full-backs, in order to bypass the opponent’s press, is evident and came at a cost for the home side.
New England’s build-up
As I mentioned earlier, both teams favoured long kicks as a method of progression from deep, over build-up on the ground. To prove this behaviour/intention from the guests, I show the perfect instance.
The situation is a simple one from the early on. LAFC participated with two men pressing high up the pitch. These two players marked the opponent’s defenders, but Caicedo dropped to help out his team-mates. However, instead of passing to him Knighton used an airball.
Although they were the dominant side, they struggled to progress on some occasions. As you see, sometimes the circumstances were not ideal for progressing due to the lack of passing options. Therefore, the wing-orientation in Revs’ game was useful due to the fact that the home side liked to form a narrow shape in defence. LAFC regularly used a 4-1-4-1 shape against the ball, but sometimes it changed to a 4-4-2.
Moreover, the same happened earlier on, where New England tried to progress up the pitch on the ground, but there was no real depth in the team’s positioning or at least Fagundez and Caicedo’s position was sub-optimal due to the tight marking. LAFC read the situation perfectly and tried to press intensely: one pressing the ball-carrier, while the others marked the passing options which caused a hard time for Caldwell. He then had only two options: 1. Backward pass to the goalkeeper or 2. Long pass towards the team-mates in higher positions. Caldwell chose the second option.
However, there were definitely issues when they reached their opponent’s final third. The wing-orientation and the cross heavy attacking game meant they had a lack of real scoring chances. They really struggled to break their opponent’s down, but sometimes due to their own mistakes. Nevertheless, here is a situation where the guests find a way to outplay the great space limiting movements from the LAFC. As you can see below, the Revs found an outlet with a horizontal pass to the unoccupied centre towards Fagundez, who immediately switched to the other side, where Penilla had time and space.
LAFC emphasised on counter-attacks
Although the home side had less time on the ball in the first half, they had the better opportunities. Their major element of the game was the quick progression and passing behind the opponent’s defence targeting Urena. For the rapid progressing, they utilised the advanced players, especially Vela. The aim was simple, long passes towards Rossi or Vela, but they had to drop to the halfspaces between the opponent’s lines.
Firstly, here is an instance, where the centre-back directly reached Rossi.
But this was not the only time when LAFC found open passing lanes. After switching sides, LAFC could take advantage of the opponent’s shifting movement and outplay the Revs’ midfield line with one pass.
This was not the only time that Vela featured in a major role. In the early minutes, he dropped to his own half for a quick lay off which allowed for the team-mates to pass behind the Revs’ defence in order to create a chance for Urena.
These were quite effective in attacking scenarios, but there were more, especially in the last 10-15 minutes of the first half. There were one or two huge scoring chances, but they did not succeed though. The major reason for the success was because New England’s full-backs did not pay attention to these movements and did not track them. Like the situation below.
Bye did not pay attention to Vela’s movement.
Intense and eventful second half
A lot happened in the second 45 minutes: mistakes, counter-attacks, opportunities, but sometimes the game turned into a bit chaotic. Which kind of understandable due to the nature of the aim of winning.
New England began the second half with a high press, which was quite effective. As you see, the strict and structured press was evident. The Revs always participated with 4-5 players during the press and with the aim of forcing the opponent back or to even get the ball in a dangerous part of the pitch which can lead to opportunities. However, New England managed to force their opponent backwards, but they failed to use this to take advantage… just yet, anyway.
On the other hand, LAFC was able to retain possession in their half in the opening minutes, and these ball stealing manoeuvres led to two major scoring chances via counter-attacks. The second one was the first goal of the match.
With the pressure on New England’s ball-carrier, LAFC forced them into a wrong pass. The home side caught the ball and quickly turned it into a counter-attack, which ended in a goal.
With Urena’s goal in the 52nd minute, the match continued in the same manner. The Revs dominated the game and the home side waited for an opportunity on the counter. The only slight difference was the energy that New England put into the game in order to claim an equaliser. On occasions, they completely occupied the opponent’s half, as shown below.
The pressure was high and only in the 82nd minutes came to fruition. Well, New England had some huge scoring chances, but Miller’s saves helped his team to keep the lead. However, after a corner, it seemed that LAFC had managed to clear the situation, but only temporarily because New England immediately played the back into the penalty box.
As you can see, half of the home team’s players were already higher up the field, whilst many of the visitors stayed in the box and became free. So, finally, New England scored from that highly dangerous situation, not long before the end, to level up the score with LAFC.
Both teams had their chances and the opportunity to win the match, but due to the mistakes in the penalty box and great performances from the home side’s goalkeeper, this led to the right result – a draw.