LOS ANGELES — In a night full of miscues and mistiming, Los Angeles FC held off the Chicago Fire on Saturday night in a scoreless draw to remain unbeaten at home this season.
Early on, the approach was simple — attack, and don’t stop. LAFC blanked the Fire in the first half, spending almost 70 percent of the period in its attacking third while firing off 10 shots, two of which were on target and four of which were blocked. The relentless pressure kept Chicago consistently on its heels, forcing the Fire to spend the majority of its energy on defending and booting the ball out of the box.
One statistic in particular stood out in the first half in a way that it normally wouldn’t — the team’s total corner kicks. Over the course of the half, LAFC forced Chicago to give up four corner kicks, and almost none of these kicks were ceded due to a deflected ball. Time and again, the team forced Chicago ‘keeper David Ousted to the ground to defend a shot, forcing a fullback to boot the ball out of bounds rather than get pinned down with the ‘keeper out of action.
But despite the offensive pressure, LAFC struggled to make any of its offensive opportunities count. Chicago made several attempts to attack off the transition, but the Fire only took two shots in the entire half. The only shot that the team was able to place on frame came from over 10 yards outside the top of the box, and it sailed directly into goalkeeper Tyler Miller’s gut. The Fire’s offensive stagnancy buoyed LAFC despite its lack of finishing.
That dominance, however, faded away in the second half, as LAFC saw a complete pivot in momentum. The Fire came out hot on the attack, and as the LAFC grip continued to slip, Chicago found openings to put the pressure on Miller and the backline. LAFC continued to attack the goal, taking 12 more shots, but the ball rarely ended up on frame.
May 4, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; LAFC fan in the 3252 section reacts in the first half against the Chicago Fire at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
With the team’s scoring woes continuing, the second half saw the addition of midfielder Lee Nguyen, who has seen limited play early in this season due to a series of leg injuries. Shortly after, Bradley added striker Adama Diomande — who has often proved his proficiency in late-game scoring situations — to the mix in the hope of invoking an offensive spark. But the home team continued to struggle to regain its footing from the first half, ceding possession to Chicago and allowing the Fire to take __ more shots on goal.
In the end, the draw had at least one positive purpose for the club — defending its unbeaten streak at home in Banc of California stadium. LAFC has yet to drop a game at home this season, and it only did so once in its inaugural season last year. At home, the team has also seen a positive-10 scoring advantage against its opponents, fortified by the fans which pack the stands, selling out every game this season. As the club celebrated the one-year anniversary of its home opener, the draw continued to cement the team’s legacy of one of the strongest home field advantages in the MLS.