Los Angeles FC Vs Real Salt Lake: Hello Diego Rossi

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 4: Diego Rossi
SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 4: Diego Rossi /

Los Angeles FC dismantled Real Salt Lake 5-1 in a brilliant attacking performance. The man who was at the heart of it all? 20-year-old Diego Rossi. Welcome to MLS.

Los Angeles FC made their name known last week in a surprise win over the Seattle Sounders. Although they faced a rotated Sounders’ side because of the CONCACAF Champions League, it was in Seattle, a place that is renowned for its difficulty, and came with an excellent display of defensive resolution and attacking vibrancy. It is the latter of those two qualities that shone through in Week 2.

After going one goal down against Real Salt Lake, tensions were beginning to rise among the LAFC ranks. Were they riding the wave of the new, a wave that had now subsided for the routine and norm of MLS? They answered that question in an emphatic fashion.

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Five goals later and Bob Bradley’s side were celebrating an extremely impressive 5-1 win over Salt Lake. They could, in all honesty, have scored more. It was a blistering attacking performance, filled with great fluency and dynamism. Their movement off the ball was the most telling trait, with options aplenty for whoever possessed the football. With the runs pulling the Salt Lake defenders apart from one another and then quality passes to exploit those open channels, LAFC found their way through on the goal on more than just the odd occasion. There was one man in particular, however, who is deserving of special praise.

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Diego Rossi won the game against Seattle with a brilliant curling, bending finish that floated into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area. He won the game again for LAFC, this time, though, with a far more rounded performance. It will be the two goals that grab the headlines for 20-year-old, but they were merely an aspect of an excellent display.

His driving runs off the ball were a staple of the LAFC attacking strategy. Many wingers like to see the ball as frequently as possible, dropping deep, wanting passes to feet, drifting inside. That is all well and good, but the game can become extremely cramped. Players need to stretch the pitch, both horizontally through wide runs, and vertically via darts into the channels beyond the opposition defence. That is exactly what Rossi provided LAFC.

He also brought class. His pass for Carlos Vela’s goal to tie a bow on the victory, for example, was wonderful, sliding through defenders, perfectly positioned so that Vela could surge onto the ball without having to break stride. His finishes were also composed and accurate, and while he proceeded to hit the post when gifted with an open-goal, his overall contribution was of an extremely high quality.

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This was a statement performance from both LAFC and Rossi. He is, as of writing, the top scorer in MLS. As long as he is at the heart of Bradley’s side, they will be a vicious attack to contend with. Did someone say ‘Newcomer of the Year’?