LAFC have now won their 7th match in a row. DC United yet another scalp.
The result is not at all surprising; yet, I am surprised. I’ve watched many LAFC games this year and nearly every game I’ve thought they were head and shoulders above their opponent. Even before the addition of Bale and Chiellini. But somehow, I didn’t feel that way in this matchup. In fact, I thought DCU were the more dangerous side in much of the first half. Several very good chances, particularly from Hopkins and Birnbaum could have easily put DCU ahead going into halftime. Considering DCU’s recent lack of scoring, this in itself is encouraging. However, that’s not what I’m feeling good about. For the first time since.. I don’t know when… the DCU team on the pitch looked like they had a legitimate gameplan. Not only that, but they looked like they had an idea of how to execute that gameplan. They were compact defensively, and effective moving forward when they had the opportunity.
For me, one of the most frustrating things about watching DCU this year is that there seems to be an extreme lack of ‘intent’. By that I mean, very few passes are made with a specific move in mind. It’s like in Chess when you don’t know what to do… just move a pawn forward and see what the happens. Most of DCU’s attack this year has consisted of ‘hopeful’ balls.. 50/50 diagonals or balls over the top, just hoping someone will make something happen. On Tuesday we saw a glimpse of actual strategic counterattacking football. Defend first, simple passes, have intent behind every pass you play. And it showed! Some nice 1-2s through the middle of the field created good chances. And for the first time in a long time, not every chance was individual play by Taxi.
Of course, the game was changed by the sending off. But even after that I was still surprised. Earlier in the year, that game would have ended 3-0 or 4-0. Despite the circumstances, the team still defended well and played as an organized squad.
I’m not sure how much that has to do with Rooney, but it’s a positive change that started when he arrived, so I’ll give him credit for it. The results haven’t really shown on paper, but this team has improved since Rooney’s appointment.
I am fully aware that being happy about losing 1-0 instead of 3-0 is quite sad. And that will still land us in last place… but for those of us still watching, at least it’s positive. Onwards and upwards I suppose.