This Fourth of July Weekend turned out to be a nightmare for Charlie Naimo's Los Angeles Blues, who were looking to build on their set of victories over the Dayton Dutch Lions at home.
“Since Charlotte played on Tuesday and has to travel back home, it presents us with a very good opportunity to grab the bull by the horns and try to take some initiative,” Blues associate head coach Shayon Jalayer told LABluesProSoccer's Gunnar Berndt ahead of their match with the Charlotte Eagles.
“On the road, there’s usually a tendency to sit back and defend a little more, but the unique circumstances could allow us to really go at them and take advantage of the tired legs that come from playing a game and then having to travel cross-country.
"Our mentality needs to be very aggressive, with lots of running and an attacking-oriented mindset.”
Even with Bright Dike in the lineup, it wasn't going to be enough for this stretch of games. On June 28, the Blues fell to the Eagles, 3-2. Two first-half goals given up in a space of four minutes was too much for Los Angeles to overcome.
Dike scored in the 58th minute of play, while Irving Garcia added a second in the 88th minute.
Against the Wilmington Hammerheads on Jun. 30, it was the same old story as they fell 4-2. Once again, Dike was on the feast, scoring in the 25th minute. Bryan Burke also scored at the hour mark to pace the Blues. However, they were done in by two goals in the first five minutes of play.
As if things hadn't been bad enough for them, the Blues were forced to play down to 10 men when Maykel Galindo was sent off in the 64th minute of play.
“We can’t complain about things not going our way,” Naimo told Berndt. “It happens in soccer. We now have to focus on yet another tough road game that is an absolute must-win for us if we’re hoping to stay in the hunt for one of the top spots in the standings. Our upcoming home games against Orlando definitely won’t be easy, either, which makes it all the more crucial for us to get a result in Richmond.
“The good news is that the guys are all very responsible about the two losses and understand that we need to get back to defending well, which is something we had started to do. Oftentimes it’s about the little mistakes, so everyone has to make sure they’re focused and stay disciplined at all times. That’s what we’re going to focus on in training today. If we can transfer it into the game against Richmond, I really think we will be all right.”
Unfortunately, the Blues ran out of gas against the Kickers. A punch-less performance led to a 1-0 defeat on the road at City Stadium. Ryan Heins scored in the 66th minute for Richmond.
The schedule isn't going to get any easier for the Blues, who now have to deal with two home matches with the Lions of Orlando City at Titan Stadium on the campus of California State University, Fullerton in Fullerton, California.
Kickoff for the Jul. 6 match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET while the Jul. 8 match is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.