Charlotte FC suffered their biggest loss of the season in Los Angeles, conceding five second half goals to drop the result 5-0 to LAFC. The league-leaders were ruthless after the break and made CLTFC pay for every mistake.
While CLTFC started strong and took the game to LAFC early on, everything unraveled on two early second half corner kicks.
Carlos Vela recycled a long corner in the 49th minute, setting it back to fellow All-Star Diego Palacios who clipped it over the top to an unmarked Jesus Murillo for the opener. Ten minutes later, CLTFC keeper Kristijan Kahlina misjudged the ball, knocking it into the path of Jose Cifuentes to volley into an open net.
Following an injury to defender Harrison Afful, CLTFC head coach Christian Lattanzio made big changes to try to salvage the result. He changed the formation to a 5-4-1 to attempt to get the speedy Jozwiak and Gaines combining on the right, pushing numbers forward in a different way.
However, it was LAFC who struck next. Cifuentes earned an assist in the 73rd minute, sending Vela through 1v1 with Kahlina. The Mexican dispatched the chance through the Croatian’s legs and put the result out of reach.
LAFC showed all their class on the fourth, with Ryan Hollingshead dummying a Latif Blessing pass, allowing Franco Escobar to streak into the box and square it back for Christian Arango to hammer home.
The final goal in stoppage time summed up a frustrating night for The Crown, with a flicked long ball sending Blessing through on a breakaway. Kahlina made a stellar 1v1 save, but the ball ricocheted off the trailing Anton Walkes (who wore the captain’s armband on the night) and into the net for an own goal.
Brave Early Pressing
CLTFC came out of the gates bravely going toe-to-toe with the first-place team in the league. When speaking to media ahead of the game this week, both coaches and players were adamant they would not just sit back and park the bus. Lattanzio has been vocal about wanting the team to play open and creatively.
With that in mind, the first half was promising. Charlotte FC blitzed the opening ten minutes, pressing extremely high as LAFC tried to build out of the back and generally dominated the early stages.
The game evened out as the first half wore on, but LAFC Head Coach Steve Cherundolo acknowledged on the LAFC broadcast at halftime that their side struggled somewhat with the press, especially in those opening ten to fifteen minutes.
While the result slipped out of reach in the second half, the first half showed the potential of the team. However, putting together a full 90-minute performance still eludes them, particularly so on the road.
Costly Mistakes Punished
Despite Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale being left off the squad, LAFC have a plethora of high-level attacking talent. When playing against a side with that killer instinct, teams must avoid simple mistakes.
CLTFC did not do that on the night.
Murillo was lost in the scramble of a recycled corner, leaving him unmarked to score the opener and break the game open. Kahlina made an uncharacteristic mistake as he came to claim a floated corner – that misjudgment gifted the second to Cifuentes. A turnover in midfield after a loose exchange between Jordy Alcivar and Brandt Bronico led directly to the third goal.
Three mistakes and the game was out of reach.
The silver lining is that CLTFC belonged in the game with LAFC in the first half, even pushing on the offensive early on. Additionally, while games of soccer are certainly more complex than just one factor, the team knows that a few simple mistakes can be fixed and addressed.
Still, it was a night the team will want to quickly put behind them as they travel directly to New York City for another crucial Eastern Conference matchup.