Setbacks happen in MLS and, sometimes, even the league’s best teams slip up. It’s the nature of the league.
It’s too soon to tell if Los Angeles FC is among the league’s best teams and we’re not far enough into the season to get a full read on how good the expansion team truly is. However, we did get a good look at how they handled adversity thanks to a bounce-back performance on Friday night.
LAFC entered Friday’s trip to Vancouver with plenty to be frustrated about. There was the epic collapse against the LA Galaxy, one which saw the team squander a 3-0 lead to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s heroics. The week after? Even worse, as they were shellacked, 5-0, by Atlanta United.
After conceding nine consecutive goals, LAFC showed a bit of toughess on Friday as the team went into Vancouver and emerged with a comprehensive 2-0 win over a fellow contender in the Whitecaps.
“It’s a big game for us,” said Carlos Vela, who scored the first goal in the statement win. “We talk about, this week, we had to change something because we lost 5-0. We lost one game wining 3-0. We did something wrong in the past.
“We had to defend better, we had to be a team, we had to be compact and, in the front, we have good players. We had to take the chances, and we did. That was nice.”
Vela understated it a bit, as he didn’t just take his chance. Rather, he took it spectacularly.
Given time and space in the box, Vela unleashed a magnificent curling effort. Stefan Marinovic had absolutely no chance of making save, and LAFC was back in business with a 1-0 lead.
Vela admitted he was surprised to find himself in so much space but, after taking some time to process, his goal of the week candidate helped restore some LAFC confidence.
“Carlos is still a player that, at any moment in a game, can take a ball, go by people, his ability when he gets closer to the goal with his finishing with his left foot,” said Bob Bradley, “and, within our team, in terms of the quality he brings every day, his personality, his professionalism, he’s been so important in the way he’s come in and embraced everybody.”
It wasn’t just Vela, though. Fellow star forward Diego Rossi iced the game with a goal of his own, his fourth in five games. Striker Marco Urena continued to fly under the radar, providing assists on both of his team’s goals.
Meanwhile, the defense looked strong, even with left back Joao Moutinho suspended due to a red card. Former Whitecap Jordan Harvey stepped in admirably, performing well in a match that saw him honored by his former team.
Against Atlanta, Bradley saw a team that was a step slow. On Friday, the message was to start strong and finish the game. Bradley doesn’t want his team to be one that accepts losing 5-0 and, on Friday, they put together a performance that showed LAFC could very well be ready to handle the ups and downs of an MLS season.
“It’s good. We know when we are winning, when we have possession, we always have a chance to create,” Vela said. “We have quick strikers. It’s important for us to be in a good position where we’re strong in the back, and when we have space, when we have chances, we are a really dangerous team.
“We worked to try and press, try to play easy. Then, we be a team. When you play on the road, you have to be a strong team, a tough team, and we did that. We had three or four chances and we took two. It was a good win.”