Earthquakes-Los Angeles FC Preview
Looking to avoid their first regular-season, three-match losing streak in their short history, Los Angeles FC tries to right itself Wednesday night at the expense of the San Jose Earthquakes.
In its two-plus seasons since entering MLS in 2018, LAFC (2-2-3) have lost just 15 of their 75 games, and Sunday's 3-1 loss at Seattle marked just the third time they have dropped back-to-back matches. Unsurprisingly, Diego Rossi accounted for the offense with his league-leading seventh goal and ninth in all MLS competitions, but it was little more than a footnote as LAFC conceded goals in consecutive minutes just after the second-half whistle.
"Since we've returned, there is, I think the level has slipped a little bit in training," coach Bob Bradley told the team's official website. "Something different for this group - where all of a sudden it is not coming so easy. Tonight I thought we started out OK, we conceded a poor goal and you could just see a little bit of the way guys put their heads down and there is never excuses.
"We set the bar high, but it is still an interesting period with the day-to-day part with players. With everything going on in their lives and in the world. Lately, we've tried everything we can to try and keep guys fully engaged. But, you can just see that some of them are not. That is the responsibility of the coaching staff to find the right ways to keep everybody going during a difficult period, both on and off the field."
Bradley's challenge is made far more difficult without the services of reigning MVP and Golden Boot winner Carlos Vela, who is sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury. Also complicating matters was the absence of playmaker Eduard Atuesta, who is also expected to miss this contest with a foot injury.
Veteran forward Bradley Wright-Phillips has not shown the same sharpness he did in Orlando when he scored four goals in five matches. LAFC are 1-2-2 when they are without Vela and Atuesta in the first XI.
San Jose (2-2-2) is trying to salvage a split of its two matches downstate after losing 3-2 to Los Angeles on Saturday. Sixteen-year-old Cade Cowell gave the Earthquakes a 2-1 lead on 59 minutes with his first career goal, but a penalty conceded and poor marking on a corner kick in the final 18 minutes consigned Matias Almeyda's side to a defeat in its first match since being knocked out of the quarterfinals in the MLS Is Back tournament.
"We've been here for a year and seven months. Every week, we spend an hour and a half, hour and 15 on set pieces," Almeyda said about his team's struggles defending dead-ball situations. "We also work on crosses and following our marks and I can assure you every time we concede a set piece goal, it hurts me more than anybody else. It's a matter of insisting and keep working on it because there's been many games where we've conceded like this and they've hurt us with set pieces."
Cowell, who became the youngest goal-scorer in club history, was not the only player handed his first MLS start as defender Tanner Beason made his league debut. The 23-year-old was whistled for the handball that led to the Galaxy's equalizer in the 72nd minute.
"I know, because it hit me, that it hit me on the shoulder, said Beason, who replaced the injured Oswaldo Alanis. "He whistled it right away and seemed to be conferring with someone over the (earpiece), but he didn't go to watch himself. That's on them to make those (calls), but it's unfortunate."
Los Angeles FC has won all four meetings between the teams, including the two last year by a combined 9-0 scoreline as Vela found the back of the net five times and Rossi added a pair while also registering two assists.
Updated September 1, 2020