LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Football Club drew against second-place Eastern Conference opponent, the Philadelphia Union in a 1-1 game in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
The Black and Gold came in looking to break a three-game losing streak. The team hasn’t won since Aug. 21, when it bested the San Jose Earthquakes.
Despite a great start to the season, where the team held 64 points as the first-place team in the Western Conference, LAFC has not been the same in the past month. Since LAFC lost its El Trafico match against arch-nemesis Los Angeles Galaxy, it’s been going through a slump.
Since then, the Black and Gold have lost a home game against Minnesota United and drew last Saturday against Orlando City SC.
LAFC displayed several strengths, winning the battle of possession at 51% and outshooting Philadelphia 16 shots to four. With that, LAFC made 493 passes in the game in comparison to the Union’s 462, hitting a solid 85% accuracy rate.
Yet, some of the same problems that have plagued the Black and Gold in the last three matches came back to haunt them tonight.
Early defensive blues came about once again as Philadelphia striker Kacper Pryzbylko scored through a floating header in just the second minute in the game as Philly effortlessly went by LAFC defenders. Zlatan Ibrahimovic also scored an early goal in El Trafico a couple of weeks back in Los Angeles.
“Well in the first five minutes we’ve got to be better and we’ve got to know they’re going to come out with a lot of intensity, a lot of energy.” LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman said. “We had intensity. We had the ability to make some tackles, make some duels and it was a hard-fought match.”
Another issue LAFC continues to face is the failure to finish. Despite winning possession and outshooting the Union, only four of the 16 shots were on target. This was the same issue in LAFC’s previous home loss to Minnesota, as the Black and Gold controlled 70% of possession during that game.
Although the team has nagging issues, there was one bright spot yesterday. LAFC star striker Carlos Vela returned to start after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Vela scored LAFC’s only goal, tying the game up in the 42nd minute. Despite Vela’s strong performance, he was subbed out in the second half, and midfielder Jordan Harvey served as captain for the rest of the match.
In the post-game press conference, LAFC coach Bob Bradley expressed that despite being back, he wanted to Vela to slowly re-integrate into the system.
“It was great for us to get him back,” Bradley said. “We were conservative. You would have loved to leave him on at that point in a 1-1 game but, we continued to build him back up.”
Despite the draw tonight and struggling the past three games, players are still continuing business as usual.
“Obviously, this was a test,” said LAFC striker Diego Rossi as reporter Gervina Catalina interpreted Rossi’s Spanish. Catalina translated that although Rossi could not pinpoint what they could learn from this game at the moment, he will most definitely decide what the teams need to improve through the buildup to next week’s game against Toronto FC.
Although the Black and Gold have not been the same team in the past couple of weeks, LAFC is still putting on what many call one of the best seasons in MLS history as they sit just eight points away from breaking the all-time team season points record. New York Red Bull holds the current record at 71 points.
The Black and Gold’s next game is against Toronto next Saturday at 7:30 PM. The game will be broadcast on YouTube TV for those living in the Los Angeles area. The Spanish-language telecasts will air on local network KVMD.