LAFC, defending Supporters’ Shield champions, had a prime opportunity to record consecutive wins for the first time in 2020 last weekend when hosting the San Jose Earthquakes. After all, Matias Almeyda’s team had suffered back-to-back five-goal defeats, and MLS goals king Chris Wondolowski called their team “mentally weak.”
But LAFC didn’t execute, allowing two late goals to suffer their sixth defeat of the year. Bob Bradley’s team had four defeats during their record-breaking 2019 season, but they’re allowing over 2.07 goals per game and are struggling to replace center back Walker Zimmerman after he was traded in February to expansion side Nashville SC.
While things could turn around, Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle isn’t so confident.
“Look, San Jose deserve a lot of credit for fighting back and getting the win after multiple five-goal defeats,” Doyle said on the latest Extratime podcast. “But for me, this was more about LAFC being the same old disastrous and just unreliable defense that we’ve seen from LAFC all year. It’s not an aberration at this point. This is just who they are.”
Doyle: It's not getting better for LAFC
On Jackson Yueill’s game-winner in the 93rd minute, Doyle felt the entire sequence highlighted LAFC’s defensive woes. It ended with San Jose's star midfielder back-heeling home a low cross, though there were several breakdowns beforehand.
“Diego Palacios, not even putting in a challenge, really, on [Cristian] Espinoza on the game-winner,” Doyle said. “Eddie Segura getting worked by a 16-year-old [Cade Cowell] in the corner and Andy Najar just standing there in the six-yard box, literally standing upright watching the play unfold and not making a move to the near post to maybe get a body in front of Yueill. This is a TAM guy, this is a guy they paid through the nose to get to the number one Allocation spot. He did not have tired legs. He was on for the last six minutes of the game.”
But the issues reach the final third, too, and Doyle feels blame lies on Brian Rodriguez’s shoulders. The DP winger, who’s part of Uruguay’s national team, has only one goal in 21 matches since arriving in August 2019 from Peñarol.
There are positives with Diego Rossi leading the Golden Boot race and Bradley Wright-Phillips still being a legitimate No. 9 threat, plus they've been operating without Carlos Vela (reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP), who remains out with an MCL sprain. But Doyle expects much more from Rodriguez, especially given his price tag and reputation.
“You can see when he plays, he has so much talent, he gets into great spots, he has a really good touch at times,” Doyle said. “And then, for whatever reason, he gets into the 18 and he shoots and he looks like me. You know how for great goalscorers everything seems to slow down and they hit it nice and square and they find – it just looks like it’s in rhythm?
“Brian Rodriguez gets to those spots and everything speeds up and his touch deserts him and he scuffs his shots and he falls down while he’s trying to shoot the ball. It’s wild to see such a talented player become such a liability, and it is at this point, you have to say that as talented as he is, he’s a liability for that team.”
For more from Doyle and the whole Extratime crew, check out the entire episode here.