Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Los Angeles FC

As a change-up from the usual fast facts format of our match programs, we reached out to friend of Orange & Blue Press, Alicia Rodriguez, …

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FC Cincinnati heads to the West Coast on Saturday for a matchup with last year’s expansion darling, LAFC, at Banc of California Stadium. As a change-up to the usual fast facts format for this match program, we reached out to friend of Orange & Blue Press, Alicia Rodriguez, who is the managing editor of Angels on Parade, SB Nation’s Los Angeles FC blog.

We asked for Alicia’s insights on four key questions heading into Saturday’s contest.

What was the biggest glaring hole for LAFC in 2018? How did Bradley fix it in the offseason?

The biggest issue for LAFC in their debut season was coughing up leads and having late defensive breakdowns in games. Somewhat remarkably, the team opted not to make a bunch of changes, instead signing one new starter, center back Eddie Segura, and letting the rest of the group that returned get another shot at it. So far, the extra time (and Segura’s arrival) has worked, as they have allowed five goals in six games and have back-to-back clean sheets. Does this mean the defensive issues of 2018 are totally behind them? That remains to be seen. But players have said that the continuity has helped a lot, and so far, the proof is in the pudding.

LAFC is the hottest team in MLS. Can you see any chinks in the armor that FC Cincinnati can exploit?

LAFC have been down a goal in a few games, but they haven’t had to contend with a multigoal deficit so far. Any team that gets increasingly desperate is bound to get sloppy, and who knows how they would respond. I’d also not wish to see any players ejected, but how would they deal with a red card? That hasn’t happened yet this year, so there are game states that the team hasn’t faced so far, and if it’s one that’s favorable to the opponent, at some point it’s bound to slow them down.

So far LAFC’s opponents have received four red cards over the first six games. Is that just good fortune or is LAFC doing something to get these players in trouble?

Truthfully, I wouldn’t consider three of the red cards to be controversial at all. The fourth? Diego Chara picked up a second yellow card for flicking Diego Rossi’s ear — a violation of the letter of the law if maybe not necessarily the spirit. I think there are two things in common with the red cards so far: LAFC’s attack has been so clinical that teams get desperate to stop another push upfield however they can, and that means clotheslines (RSL’s Justin Portillo), rough midfield fouls to stop play (SKC’s Roger Espinoza), potential leg-breaking tackles (D.C. United’s Wayne Rooney) and yes, even flicks of the ear. The other thing in common is Rossi — he’s drawn three of the four red cards, and he’s a player who both has been fined for embellishment this year and seems to be getting less sympathy from the referees when he goes to ground, but also draws more than his share of legitimate fouls and cards, too.

LAFC tried to trade-up in the SuperDraft and get southern California native Frankie Amaya. Is there any buzz in LA about Frankie returning and possibly playing, given FC Cincinnati’s current injury troubles?

Aside from his family and friends? I’d say not really. Yes, LAFC made offers to trade up for Amaya, but when FC Cincinnati didn’t budge at the draft, they drafted two midfielders who they ended up signing, in Peter-Lee Vassell and Javi Perez. Vassell came to the team a full Jamaican international and has been a regular sub, while Perez has already made his MLS debut while splitting his time on loan in the USL Championship. Time will tell which players end up with the better trajectories, but early returns seem to indicate LAFC ended up drafting pretty well.

A big thanks to Alicia for her time and insights. Go check out all of her work at and Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati at LAFC on Saturday.

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