Shootout in Los Angeles ends in draw between LAFC and Union

LAFC Union
Los Angeles, Calif. — March 8: Carlos Vela #10 of Los Angeles FC celebrates his goal during the MLS match against Philadelphia Union at the Banc of California Stadium on March 8, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The match ended in a 3-3 draw. (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images).

Los Angeles, Calif. — With a weeks rest, Los Angeles FC took the field for the second time this season. Hosting a Philadelphia Union side coming into the match looking to bounce-back from their opening day loss. With another round of CCL just days away, head coach Bob Bradley continued to send out his strongest XI to start. If you expect LAFC to rotate the squad this year, don’t. To a person, they have made it clear that they plan, and play, to win every match they participate in.

While most of Los Angeles spent the day Sunday preoccupied with the Lakers and Clippers, the 3252 came out in force to end the weekend with a party. While many assumed LAFC would make quick work of the Union, the memo never made it to Philadelphia, who started off the match strong with several early chances.

It didn’t take long for them to score either, as Sergio Santos put the Union ahead in the 28th minute with a heat-seeking missile that found its way past Kenneth Vermeer. Not one to be outdone, LAFC captain Carlos Vela scored the equalizer in the 38th minute from a free-kick several yards outside the box.

The second half wasted little time picking up where the first left off. Union defender Jakob Glesnes fired a rocket from 35 yards out that scorched its way past Vermeer for the lead. However, it was short-lived as just a minute later Diego Rossi put in a curler of his own, putting LAFC level at two.

Who are the Union?

After finishing third in the Eastern Conference last season, Philadelphia came into 2020 with eyes on taking that next step. They’re trying to become a team that contends for the top-spot in conference and the MLS Cup. After a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of FC Dallas, the Union were able to bounce-back against the league’s best team. While they didn’t get the win, they did score three goals, which was enough to split the point. While it’s still early in the season, if the Union consistently play like they did against LAFC, they will find themselves in the thick of the MLS Cup race.

Dejan Jakovic

While it is never easy to replace the likes of Walker Zimmerman, that is exactly what Dejan Jakovic has done. With all eyes on him coming into the season, Jakovic has proven his worth through three matches. While most 34-year-olds are scaling back their responsibilities, Jakovic finds himself asked to do more in a team that expects clean sheets more often than not. While LAFC did give up three goals, they were more a product of exceptional striking and not dissection of the defense. With CCL just days away, hopefully Jakovic can put the Union match out of his mind and continue his run of good form.

Defensive Disaster

Tonight was one to forget for the LAFC defense. In fairness, the three goals from the Union came from moments of brilliance and super-strikes, more than them tactically breaking down the back four. However, in the end, the defense still allowed three goals. That total equals the most LAFC has allowed in their history, while playing at home. With another Liga MX powerhouse in Cruz Azul coming to The Banc in a few days’ time, this defense will need to fix their issues immediately. Should they want to remain the Concacaf Champions League.

Final Thoughts

Giving up three goals is never ideal, but how LAFC responded to each one says a lot. The Union never led for longer than five minutes, showing just how lethal Los Angeles can be when they need it. While not the best night defensively, putting it all on the back four is extremely harsh. Growing pains are to be expected and shouldn’t be cause for overreaction.

Cruz Azul will be another tough CCL test for the black and gold. However, if they want to advance, they will need tighten up and not let the opposition get off many, if any, open looks.


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