Well, Colorado Rapids fans, we’re about to have arguably the second most difficult match of 2019 this weekend. The only one that could be tougher? When we travel to play them on the road. Strap yourselves in as we talk about the current kings of MLS, Los Angeles FC.
LAFC have been on top of the freaking world this year. Over their 16 games, they have earned 37 points and averaged 2.31 ppg, which puts them on track for a league-shattering 79 points over the year. They’ve scored 39 goals, which could mean 83 goals over the season. They have allowed 13 goals so far this season and could end the year with just 28 goals allowed. Total. LA started the season by going seven games in a row undefeated, took a single loss in Vancouver in April and have since gone eight games undefeated.
For some comparison, the most points in a season is held by New York Red Bulls last year with 71 points. The best offense was Toronto in 2017 with 74 goals and they would be on track to tie for the fifth best defense of all time. This isn’t just any team, this is the team of MLS currently. Putting it bluntly, LAFC is absolutely crushing it.
On top of all of the above, we have no luck coming our way from the international break. Most of their success has all come down to a single player—Designated Player and forward Carlos Vela, formerly of Real Sociedad in La Liga and Mexican National Team superstar. The man has been on fire, scoring 16 goals and 10 assists so far. This would put him on track to surpass Josef Martinez’s record from last year, scoring 34 goals and averaging a goal per game. With assists included, he is pretty much involved in at least two goals each game. For a player that by all means should be off for international duty, he is surprisingly still playing for LAFC and not in the Gold Cup, which means he will be our headache to deal with.
That’s not to say that LAFC have no one out for international duty. They are pretty committed to a 4-3-3 lineup, but this lineup may feature a heavy rotation. Their goalkeeper has usually been Tyler Miller, but he will be absent due to USMNT Gold Cup call-up. The back line has been Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, and either Steven Beitashour or Tristan Blackmon, but Zimmerman joined Tyler Miller with the USMNT.
Their midfielders have been Latif Blessing, Eduard Atuesta, and Canadian Mark-Anthony Kaye, but MAK is out for Canadian duty. The rest of their main offensive lineup—the aforementioned Carlos Vela along with Diego Rossi and Christian Ramirez—are still with the team. Regardless of who they are missing, expect one heck of a fight coming to the Rapids fortress on Friday.
This means that there is a good chance that this game does not go our way. Let’s make one thing very, very clear here. LAFC is an extremely good team, and we should by no means be disheartened if we lose. There is nothing to feel bad about if we take a loss against a team that is on track to be a record setter.
To me, much like how the Vancouver match was more about how the team reacted to the loss in the Open Cup, the important thing from this game will be how we react coming into the next game we have, which is July 4th against the New England Revolution. Until then, let’s enjoy the game and kick off the weekend right.