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This is a David vs Goliath encounter. San Jose Earthquakes are seven games without a win and Los Angeles FC seem to have already got the Supporters’ Shield in the bag. Only Sporting Kansas City have got fewer points than the San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference.
Everything points to a comfortable Los Angeles FC win, the real question is by how much. Despite the differences in fortunes for the sides at this moment in time, San Jose Earthquakes have the superior record in head to heads with eight wins, four losses and no draws. However, head-to-head records means little when the gap in quality between these two sides is so big.
The sides last met in May this season with Los Angeles FC just about pulling through. They got an early two goal lead but could not handle Jeremy Ebobisse, who scored a brace on the day. With the game even at half-time, Brian Rodriguez scored an early first-half goal and this time, Los Angeles FC managed to hold onto the win and got all three points.
All in all, it was a deserved victory with the team taking 13 shots compared to San Jose’s seven and having the larger share of possession, 53 percent at the time. Los Angeles FC will be heading into this matchmaking sure that it settles a little earlier.
Despite not getting wins during this barren run, most of the games were quite tight but the 4-1 loss to FC Dallas last weekend would’ve been even more damaging for some of the players. Jesus Ferreira’s first-half brace and Marco Farfan’s goal in the 20th minute ended the tie in the first half.
Jeremey Ebobisse got a consolation goal in the 60th but it’s best for San Jose to start looking at what they can put right heading into next season.
Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding the club, they’ve got a real star in Jeremy Ebobisse. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, he has always looked dangerous. Despite playing for such a poor side, he has scored 14 goals with an expected goal value 11.9. He has earned those goals and they have to make sure that they can hold onto him for a while because he’s only 25 years old with many years left in him. Put some solid pieces around him and they can go a long way.
Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem in general for the San Jose Earthquakes, they’ve scored 40 this season, which is something many of the sides above them will be envious of. The problems lie at the other end.
The 4-1 loss to Dallas FC sums up their issues this season. No matter how threatening they are going forward, they’re never going to be a real thorn in anyone’s side if they’re so easy to play against. Signings will help but the team needs to get more organized right now. A team like LAFC are capable of putting over four past them if they aren’t careful.
They’ve conceded 53 goals, which is more than any other side in the league. The expected goals against at 47.8 also suggests that it isn’t some bad luck that’s been responsible for the big losses they’ve had all season. The midfield and offensive line are equally responsible for not being harder to play against.
Defensive midfielder George Asomani has been out since February with a hip injury. There’s no expected return date for the time being.
Kwadwo Opoku’s goal in the 67th minute was enough to get LAFC another three points against an energized DC United under Wayne Rooney. DC United went down to 10 men, which made the job a bit easier. Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini didn’t play this match but that just goes to show how strong this team is. They’re now on 57 points from 25 games. No other team in either conference is anywhere close to amassing a similar number of points.
After making a great start to their respective LAFC careers, it looks like Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale will only play select games with the top position in the league looking all but wrapped up. It makes sense to rest the two superstars to keep them energized for the playoffs but fans will be a bit disappointed to not see them take the field more often.
Bale has got a World Cup to look forward to in November, whereas Chiellini is 38 years old. It isn’t without reason that they’ve been rested, but the fact that they’ve both been quite impressive when they have played will satisfy most fans. The core of this side before the two legendary players dropped by was pretty strong and it shouldn’t stop the team from getting more wins.
As is the case with most teams that run away with the league, the only thing that LAFC have to ensure is that they don’t get too complacent when the playoffs come. This is something that’s become quite common among teams in Europe who win their domestic leagues quite easily before struggling to get themselves up for big Champions League games.
At one point, New York FC had the best underlying numbers but LAFC are catching up with them on that front now, and should end the season with the best surface numbers as well as underlying numbers. The only question is if they can be mentally up for it when the playoffs start because there are no question marks around their tactical, technical and physical qualities.
Right-back Erik Duenas has been out since last season with a cruciate ligament rupture. He’s only 17 years old.
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|Los Angeles FC vs San Jose Earthquakes
|Saturday, 20 August at 10pm ET onwards
|How to watch
|ESPN+, DAZN, NBS Sports California, KCOP 13 and Estrella 62
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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