LAFC Preview: Los Angeles looks to re-establish control of the MLS

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LOS ANGELES, CA — MARCH 10: Carlos Vela #10 of Los Angeles FC 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 (May 2, 2019) — When Los Angeles FC host the Chicago Fire this weekend it will be a chance to cross another name off their list. Though not at battle for an iron throne, they are at battle for a cup.

The MLS Cup, to be exact.

Along the way, they have enjoyed avenging the matches lost and points dropped from 2018. Saturday will be no different when LAFC welcome the Chicago Fire, who beat them 3-1, when Los Angeles played visitor last season.

Preview: LAFC will be defending The Banc and looking to re-establish control of top spot

After a scorching 5-0-1 start of the season, the last four matches have left a bit to be desired. At first glance, a record of 2-1-1 may not seem troubling, it is the way in which those matches have been played that raises questions. Only twice have LAFC been held to under two goals in a match. Both times have come over the last four matches, a 1-0 upset at the hands of bottom tabled Vancouver Whitecaps squad. Meanwhile, the other was the recent 1-1 draw to the Seattle Sounders.

Finishing

LAFC have quickly become known for the potency of their attack. Able to find width, space inside the box and provide crosses that leave the ball on a silver platter for attackers. However, as of late, the finishing product hasn’t been there.

Last match saw LAFC fail to convert several chances to win, none more glaring than the Christian Ramirez sitter from two feet that sailed over the crossbar in the 48th minute. When speaking after training, Defender Jordan Harvey talked about the poor finishing saying , “We had a lot of opportunities, we just weren’t clinical. I think that’s happened, maybe a couple of times this year. Normally, our attackers, they get one chance, they finish it.”

He isn’t wrong. Usually the attack is clinical. However, they just haven’t been recently.

Home, sweet home

LAFC have one of, if not the most, defining home field advantages in all of MLS. With a “Defend The Banc” rally cry, LAFC have done just that, outscoring opponents 14-4 and remaining unbeaten at home in 2019.

This does not bode well for a Chicago Fire team that has been outscored 6-3 on the road. When asked if his team think about these “revenge” games, manager Bob Bradley responded, “A little bit. That was a game we weren’t happy with last year.”

With a chance to avenge another poor 2018 performance, and a rowdy 3252 fan section behind them, this should provide the perfect opportunity to get the finishing back to its clinical potential.

The new guy

It’s no secret by now that new signing Rodolfo “Fito” Zelaya is fit. While no official word has been released on whether Zelaya will actually play this Saturday, chances are the 30-year-old El Salvadorian striker will come on as a substitute. With Christian Ramirez continuing to struggle in the final third, fans have been clamoring for a look at the newest member of the attack.

Netting 112 goals in 227 appearances, there is reasonably a lot of hype surrounding him. While it is possible Adama Diomande makes his return to the starting lineup, chances are he will be given at least one more match to recover from his hamstring injury. Should he miss out, many will be crossing their fingers for a Fito sighting.

Prediction

This weekend may prove critical in the race for the West. Early on, it appears all roads to the MLS Cup will lead through LA, be it Galaxy or LAFC. Holding on to first by only one point, and with the new playoff format this season, it is crucial to win matches you should — especially at home.

Having failed to secure the full three points against a severely weakened Seattle squad, LAFC will one again look to regain the momentum with which they started the season. Expect captain, Carlos Vela, to lead the attack, and his team, victory.

 

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