LAFC Preview: Los Angeles FC travel north in California clash

Los Angeles FC
LOS ANGELES, CA — MARCH 10: Mark-Anthony Kaye #14 of Los Angeles FC celebrates his goal during Los Angeles FC's MLS match against Portland Timbers at the Banc of California Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.Los Angeles FC won the match 4-1 (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Los Angeles, California (March 29, 2019) — Los Angeles FC are taking their show on the road. With a couple of road tests ahead for the Western Conference leaders, they start things off against fellow California club, the San Jose Earthquakes. While on paper it would appear an easy LAFC win, this preview will show why that may not be.

LAFC look to continue run of form against woeful Quakes

Tale of Two Teams

Coming into Saturday afternoon’s match, both teams could not be in more different positions. For Los Angeles, they sit undefeated atop the Western Conference table, having won three of their first four matches.

However, San Jose have yet to avoid defeat in their first three matches, losing by a combined score of 9-2. LAFC will be without Lee Nguyen, but welcome back several players returning from international duties, including Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Hunters, Now the Hunted

So far this season, LAFC have been able to draw on added motivation, facing off against teams that either knocked them out of playoffs or ones they failed to defeat in 2018. However, this week, the tables have turned. It will be San Jose coming into this match with a sense of vengeance on their minds.

The last time LAFC traveled to San Jose, they faced a 3-2 deficit in the 90th minute, only to score two in extra time, snagging the full three points in 4-3 victory. I can assure you San Jose hasn’t forgotten.

For the first time this year, it will be LAFC facing a team with added motivation to beat them. If they aren’t careful, could experience their first defeat.

Travel Woes

For as good as LAFC have been at home defending The Banc, they have been equally inconsistent when away from friendly confines in the MLS. It has been on the road where Los Angeles has suffered their biggest, as well as some of the more heartbreaking losses, MLS playoff loss at home aside.

Remember how I mentioned before LAFC have won three of their first four matches? Well, the one outlier was a 2-2 draw to NYCFC, while on the road. The energy, rhythm and sense of confidence that has become prevalent amongst this squad, has yet to be seen while away from Los Angeles.

This match could be the type of match they need to really kickstart a road presence, to become just as feared as visitors, as they are becoming as hosts.

Under the Surface

At first glance, a team that has lost by a combined score of 9-2 should have zero chance, facing a team as quick on the attack as LAFC. However, a deeper look shows something fairly interesting in regards to the Earthquakes’ struggles.

San Jose, in all three of their matches, have not only held possession more than their opponent. However, they have averaged over 50 percent of possession so far this season. What that means is that they are extremely prone to counter-attacks. While this may appear to play into the hands of fast paced LAFC, another deeper look will show why that may not be.

For as great as they are at getting out on counter-attacks, LAFC don’t really score from those situations. A lot of times their counters end in a loss of possession or a poor touch in the final third. A majority of the damage in an LAFC attack comes from their ability to posses in the opponent’s half, while feeding the wings and crossing balls into the box.

If San Jose follow the blueprint set by NYCFC and Real Salt Lake, and maintain possession while cutting off the wing play, LAFC could find themselves in trouble.

What to Expect

Simply put, three points.

LAFC expect to leave San Jose with the result. Having finished the 2018 campaign as the most fouled team, they look to reclaim that title again as three of the first four matches have seen an opposing player see a red card. When speaking after training, midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye touched on what they expect saying, “It (the game) will be very physical, we got a little taste of it in pre-season when they came here.”

He went on to say, “at the end of the day, we take every game the same way so it’s always about us and how we can play our football.”

When it is all said and done LAFC should be leaving San Jose with several goals, and three points in hand.

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