What I Saw (LAFC Reflections)

April 2, 2019

The team is statistically worse now than it was in 2018. Mika Stahre won his first game as a manager before the spiral began; Matias Almeyda has yet to earn a point as a manager while posting a -12 goal differential.

The Game

The refrain from players and coaches after last night’s match was that the players did not execute their game plan. Credit Bob Bradley for knowing what the Quakes would do as it appeared that LAFC were always one step ahead of San Jose. The Quakes were not only outplayed, but out prepared.

The process of rebuilding now sounds like it may not take weeks or months, but possibly years. I’m no fan of Alexi Lalas, but his words during the DC United/Orlando City game at halftime are true: there is no long-term plan in MLS. DC United was last until Wayne Rooney came in and made them playoff contenders; now they sit in first in the East. It’s not about building a dynasty, it’s about building a winning team year in and year out, which means high player turnover and investment.

The Players

The curse of Colin Etnire continues. For the second game in a row, Judson was subbed off, this time during halftime. If things continue, he will be on his way off the starting XI. (I voiced my concern back in December). Sorry, Judson; Simon Dawkins knows your pain.

Vako was subbed off at the half as well. Vako, the team’s highest paid player, had 11 touches in 45 minutes, seven passes, and just 71% of those (5 of 7) were completed. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tommy in the middle of the pitch at this point.

Almeyda never used his third sub. I understand the need “not to contaminate” your players, but limiting a player’s playing time might be worse. Are the options on the bench really that bad when the team is down 5-0?

Lima and Flo, the team’s defensive MVPs for 2018 and 2017, were benched the entire game. In the 120 minutes of play that Lima was subbed off at RBNY, the Quakes have surrendered eight goals.

Shea was moved back to a fullback position and was beaten several times, echoes of 2018.

Vega had a few gaffs in goal, but also made a few key saves to keep the scoreline from being 6-0 or even 7-0 (Guram Kashia also assisted on a save that got by Vega).

The Quakes could have signed Steven Beitashour, but didn’t. Beita, a defender, scored against his old team at the request of his father. (Congrats, Steven! We miss you in San Jose!)

Carlos Vela proves why having quality DPs matter.

The Fans

The San Jose Ultras took time to hold up a tifo condemning the LAFC supporters’ group. Maybe the Ultras, and the San Jose Front Office, should take notes from LAFC. I’ve never seen the rafters shake as much as I did on Saturday, or heard such a lopsided cheering section from the visiting side. The Ultras are passionate about the club, but they represent a relic of soccer supporters from the ’90s that many fans have left or do not want to support. The future for fan support is clubs and fans working together to build an umbrella group with various supporters’ groups falling under that umbrella. As long as the Ultras keep to their “Us vs. Them/Fuck the World” mentality while not supporting other San Jose supporters’ groups, San Jose will never be able to compete with clubs that have adapted to this new era of fan support.

Furthermore, I never heard the LAFC supporters’ group sing one song that glorifies their group as a whole, every song was about the team or the players on the team. Bravo, 3252.

Finally, San Jose fans are also clearly disgruntled at the front office for the lack of spending. The sign directed at Quakes owner John Fisher is not the first, and probably won’t be the last. The team has hinted that big signings were in the works, but fell through. Hopefully they are targeting more players for the summer window.



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