Back home in Los Angeles after a stint with the U.S. men’s national team, Tyler Miller was in goal for LAFC during its third preseason match Monday against the Columbus Crew SC. Fellow USMNT player Walker Zimmerman remained on the bench to start the friendly.
— LAFC (@LAFC) February 5, 2019
LAFC drew first blood with an own-goal after midfielder Alejandro Guido crossed the ball through the box. The Crew responded with a shot off a deflection by Patrick Mullins to even up the score, and the two teams entered the half evenly tied at 1-1.
The second half started strong for LAFC, with striker Lee Nguyen neatly collecting a through ball from Adrien Perez to notch his first score of the preseason, burying the ball in the bottom corner to retake the lead 2-1. But from there, the team began to stall as Columbus launched a furious attack on offense. With goalkeeper Phillip Ejimadu in for Miller and Zimmerman still on the bench, the back line faltered under the pressure.
It started with a JJ Williams goal. The striker slipped past the defense and beat Ejimadu when he came off his line to challenge the play. Minutes later, Williams added a booming shot from more than 10 feet outside the box. Justin Meram chipped in a final blow in the final minutes of play, making the final score 4-2.
Although the final result was a loss, the team was cheerful as it reflected on the challenges of the game. Beside testing the second-string of the back line, head coach Bob Bradley also used the day as a heat check for midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, who started for the first time since suffering a season-ending injury last summer.
“It felt good,” Kaye said. “I’m a little tired right now, I’m not gonna lie. But it felt good to be in a pressurized situation with outside competition. I’m happy I got out there.”
Outside of Kaye’s performance, Bradley remained positive after the match, focusing on the midfield’s ability to adapt to a wide offense as one of the necessities for his team moving forward. With three more preseason games left before the team’s home opener in March, the coach will continue to play different schemes and lineups to find what fits best.
“Until Mark-Anthony got tired in the second half, we were very good,” Bradley said. “When he got tired, we lost a little bit of our rhythm, and then at the end we didn’t have anything going at that point.”
The team has a week to prepare for its next preseason game at home, hosting the 2018 championship-winning Atlanta FC club.