With their main striker Marco Urena as well as clinical winger Carlos Vela going to the World Cup, Adama Diomande’s arrival at LAFC was very timely. Linking up with Bob Bradley again, who scored 15 goals in 20 games for at Stabaek, Diomande has continued to impress under the American scoring nine goals in his first ten MLS games. But what’s been behind his impact in the States?
Having coached him before, it’d be fair to assume Bradley knows how to get the best out of Diomande. It’d be even fairer to assume that after seeing that seven of Diomande’s nine MLS goals have come when playing in a 4-3-3.
Rather than relying on inside forwards like Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing for goals in a 4-2-3-1, the Norwegian gives LAFC a complete option up top. He’s able to hold the ball up well and allow people to play off him well but he is also a constant threat inside the box as you can see from his heat map. Something that can’t quite be said for Urena.
Here’s how LAFC attacked in MLS before the Diomande’s arrival.
A big part of why LAFC are 2nd in the Western Conference is the goal-scoring of the aforementioned wingers/inside forwards. Vela has notched eight goals this season with Rossi on six and Blessing on five. One thing that made this possible was the playing style of Urena as you’ll see below:
This method of attacking proved to be very effective for LAFC early on in the season, but became easy to read and their form fluctuates. With Urena, not the quickest either, he didn’t test the opposition defence much and is still without an MLS goal this season.
Thankfully, Diomande was brought in along with another attacking dimension.
LAFC With Diomande
As you saw in the heatmap used earlier, Diomande likes to get involved in the buildup of attacks and very effective in and around the box.
One reason I feel the 4-3-3 formation allows us to see this best is not just the way Diomande is used, but also the wide players. Rather than both acting as inside forwards who carry the main goalscoring threat, it changes to just one in the 4-3-3.
Instead of the plan of attacking being from in to out, it is very much from out to in, meaning one winger always needs to hold their width. The other is then allowed to join Diomande in central positions as well as an onrushing midfielder. Here is an example of when Diomande’s qualities were on show:
Many of Diomande’s LAFC goals have come from similar situations which may make it seems like he only scores easy goals. But that is why he is so useful for LAFC.
Although he didn’t have the best experience with Hull City in England, scoring eight in 64 games, playing at that level would’ve seriously improved his game. That is something we see in the way he is able to find spaces with his movement which MLS defenders are yet to get accustomed to.
LAFC’s first MLS season has been a success so far and Diomande’s arrival has been key to that. He hasn’t scored in his last few games but against LA Galaxy last week he was finding himself in great positions. If both him and his teammates continue to work together in the same way then the business end of the season looks like it could be very encouraging for both parties.
LAFC’s next game comes against New York Red Bulls this weekend. Diomande may even be able to add more to his game if MLS centurion Bradley Wright-Phillips gives him a few tips about the league.