On Sunday the 7th of October, the Colorado Rapids faced the new comers LAFC, Bob Bradley’s team just clinched a playoff spot while on the other side Hudson’s men are eliminated from this season’s playoffs.
The Los Angeles Football club dominated the game at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
So this is how both teams lined up: The Rapids decided to go with a 4-3-1-2 formation with Howard between the posts, in terms of defense from right to left: Hairston, Sjoberg, Smith and Castillo. In midfield from right to left: Blomberg Price and Acosta. Serna played behind the striker duo: Gashi and Barnes.
For Bradley’s men it was a 4-3-3: Miller in goal, in front of him a line of four defenders: from right to left; Beitashour, Danilo Silva, Zimmerman and Harvey. The midfield line was made of Felhaber Nguyen and Kovar. And in the final third Vela, Diomande and Rossi were posing the threat for the Colorado defenders.
A spotlight will be shed on the LAFC tactics, the latter were switching to a 4-5-1 in a defensive state which meant that Rossi and Vela would tuck in on the midfield three. Their compact defensive shape didn’t mean that their attack wasn’t as good and effective, in fact, Harvey and Beitashour were often found overlapping in the final third. Moreover, their flexibility in midfield meant that there could always be an extra player supporting the attack. However, despite their midfield flexibility each player had specific roles given by Bradley, Nguyen had to win the ball as fast as possible to help the high pressure operation manufactured by the forwards as well, Nguyen also had the responsibility to counter press and put a threat on the opposition with his great 88% passing accuracy average. Kovar and Nguyen would play the role of the extra player in the final third contributing to 2 of the 3 goals scored, while Feilhaber had to play the role of the anchor to start the build up from the back and eventually support the defenders. In terms of the forwards, Diomande was the target man and would often drop to receive the ball between midfield and defense lines and is clinical and very dangerous with his space and intelligence to pick the right runs. Rossi and Vela would cut inside to pose more threat and create space for Fullbacks to overlap.
The plan above was very efficient, 2 of the 3 goals were from open plays.
For Diomande’s first goal and LAFC’s second Nguyen did what he does best, won the ball while Colorado were building up from the back and had spaces wide open, meanwhile Diomande was picking the right space to run into, and it was just a matter of time for Nguyen to put the ball in the space and the former Hull striker had found the net to double the lead.
Diomande was having a good day at work, in fact he had a brace, his second goal was from a very important contribution from midfield yet another time. This time it was Kovar’s contribution that made the difference, the midfielder stepped between the defense and the midfield line while staying more or less central. Now that caused a bit of discomfort for the Colorado defense, in fact Castillo (the Left Back) has to leave his position to put pressure on Kovar, which could be considered as a smart move, however, Acosta didn’t tuck in to cover the space of the full back, that way either Smith would cover it but this would leave a lot of space for Diomande or Castillo would go back to his position but this would leave Kovar free and can make a pass without pressure which eventually happened since Castillo was confused and didn’t apply an efficient press on the LAFC midfielder.
Another victim of this disorganization was Smith since he didn’t know whether to stay in his position or cover to Castillo which meant his awareness of Diomande’s position wasn’t as well as it should’ve been which finally lead to Kovar putting a pass in behind Smith and Castillo and the LAFC striker was too tempted to not find the back of the net to finish the game for his team.
High pressure, forcing the opponent towards the touch line, or through triangles made of a midfielder a full back and a winger or simple pressure in midfield, the outnumbering in dangerous areas of the pitch, the pace and the quick transitions of the squad and the awareness of the 11 of the pitch were all major factors in the LAFC domination in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.