Category Archives: Western Conference

Western Conference

LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela’s Home Run, Loans, National Team Call-Ups, Gold Links

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Vela leads LAFC to 2-2 Draw in New York

Last weekend, the luck of the Irish was on LAFC’s side as they earned a hard-fought point on the road in a 2-2 draw against New York City FC on Sunday.

Carlos Vela continues to be the most influential player by keeping the ball moving, bagging a pair of goals to extend LAFC’s undefeated streak for a remarkable start of their 2019 campaign.

Missing Lee Nyguen and Steven Beitashour due to injuries, LAFC pushed through. An uneven playing surface proved to be problematic for the first half but LAFC adjusted to regain more control in the midfield; it was less effective. But the strategy wreaked havoc for NYCFC.

Click here for the full recap

But the main story is the supporters who traveled to the match. Around 200 to 300 supporters’ chants were loud and clear on FS1’s broadcast for the full 90 minutes. It felt like I was back at the Banc.

Loans. Loans. Loans.

Last week, LAFC announced they have loaned four players to USL side, Phoenix Rising FC – defenders Tristian Blackmon and Shaft Brewer Jr., midfielder Javier Perez, and forward Josh Perez.

According to the club statement: “Per the Right of Recall incorporated in the loan agreements, LAFC retains the right to call the players at any point during the MLS regular season, subject to MLS roster compliance guidelines.”

Blackmon, Brewer Jr., and Perez have spent time with Phoenix last season. This will be Javier Perez’s first loan in the USL Championship.

International Duty

It’s a player’s dream to receive a call-up for national duty. And for LAFC, several players’ dreams became a reality as Christian Ramirez, Peter-Lee Vassell, Mark Anthony Kaye, and Mohamed El-Munir have been called in to serve their national teams, respectively.

All five players will miss this weekend’s home match against Real Salt Lake.

Here’s the breakdown:

Christian Ramirez – United States of America

The Santa Ana native is no stranger to the United States Men’s National Team after spending time in the January camp with fellow teammates, Tyler Miller and Walker Zimmerman.

His past performances, which were highlighted by scoring a goal in the 3-0 win over Panama, earned him another call-up when USMNT’s head coach Gregg Berhalter released the roster for upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Chile.

Ramirez did not appear in the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday night in Orlando, Florida. But he could have a chance to appear as the USMNT takes on Chile on Tuesday, March 26 in Houston, Texas.

Peter-Lee Vassell – Jamaica

The 21-year-old has made two substitute appearances for the black-and-gold this season. Jamaica faces El Salvador on March 23 in Concacaf Nations League play.

The Reggae Boyz currently have three wins in the competition.

Mark-Anthony Kaye – Canada

After missing the remainder of 2018 due to an ankle injury, Kaye started in the first two LAFC matches.

Kaye will join the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan Osorio, and Cyle Larin the 23-man squad. Canada faces French Guiana on March 24, needing a win to secure its place in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Mohamad El-Munir – Libya

El-Munir has appeared on the roster for the first three matches but has yet to make his club debut. Libya is set to take on South Africa on March 24 in Group E of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

Josh Perez – US U-23 squad

The United States’ Under-23 Men’s National Team will play its first matches of the 2020 U-23 cycle with a pair of friendlies in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain; the first under newly named manager Jason Kreis.

Included on the twenty-three man roster is LAFC forward Josh Perez, who joined LAFC in August before going on loan to Phoenix Rising FC where he remains so far this season.

The Olympic hopefuls will face Egypt on Friday, March 22 and the Netherlands on Sunday, March 24. Both matches are set to kick off at 12 p.m. ET at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar.

Gold Links

Photo credit: @LAFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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Seattle Sounders get First Road Win versus Chicago Fire


Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

The Seattle Sounders rolled in to Chicago just as hot as they’d started at home. From the opening whistle, the Sounders were firing on all cylinders down both wings and through the middle with Nicolas Lodiero.

The first goal came in only the 8th minute when Victor Rodriguez found the back of the net from an insanely accurate cross from Jordan Morris. The 1-0 lead was doubled in the 15th minute when Morris chipped Chicago goalkeeper David Ousted with the outside of his right foot. The finish was just as highlight-reel-worthy as the ball in from Nicolas Lodiero.



The Sounders returned to the field in the second half with a clear offensive push that showed they were not content with only 2 goals. Rodriguez drew a penalty after a hard take-down and el capitan, Lodiero, placed the ball on the spot. While the initial kick seemed to have hit the woodwork, the shot hit the crossbar and bounced down crossing the goal line, giving Nico his first goal of the season and increasing the Sounders’ lead to 3-0.


Image: Seattle Sounders FC

Minutes later, Raheem Edwards, a first half substitute, pulled one back in the 56th minute. The two teams battled for the next 30 minutes and Fabian Herbers made things interesting in the 84th when he scored a second goal for Chicago making it 3-2 Seattle. Raul Ruidiaz came to Seattle’s rescue, however, and tallied his third of the season in the 88th minute to make the final score 4-2 in favor of Seattle.



Takeaways

Morris Might Be (he definitely is) For Real

There was so much speculation and excitement surrounding Jordan Morris’ return to soccer. After more than a year out with injury, there was still a good deal of skepticism even after his dominating performance in the home opener. For whatever doubters might still be lingering, his goal and play this game showed that the hometown kid is back and better than ever. Morris left Chicago to join Gregg Berhalter and the US Men’s National Team in Orlando where he’s hoping to spark a comeback in the stars and stripes as well.

Dominant Offense, Dreary Defense

The front four of the Sounders were at it again from the opening whistle until each (excluding Ruidiaz) were subbed off. The dynamic tandem on the left side with Brad Smith and Victor Rodriguez was an issue early on for Chicago, as it was for Cincinnati and Colorado previously in the season. Kelvin Leerdam had another open look at goal, Morris and Lodiero put on a show of skill and Ruidiaz scored a goal in his 8th consecutive MLS game.

Stefan Frei was called upon a few too many times this game, although he rose to the occasion for many of them. The Fire put up 25 shots and 12 on target and maintained 52% possession during the game. While the Sounders still secured a solid 3 points on the road, it wasn’t their cleanest victory.

Featured image: @SoundersFC

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LA GALAXY Magically win 3-2 at home against Minnesota United

Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Diego Polenta, Jorgen Skjelvik; Sebastian Lletget, Jonathan dos Santos ©, Joe Corona, Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget; Chris Pontius (Julian Araujo 85’), Uriel Antuna, Ema Boateng (Servando Carrasco 90’+4’)

Photo Credit Jamie Bacon. LA Galaxy Up 1 after a penalty kick


Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto used the same lineup in consecutive matches.  This team lost away to FC Dallas just the week before. But, the team that showed up on the field Saturday March 16 played in a stellar way that fans hadn’t seen in years.

The stars on the pitch were captain Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget. It was a dream come true to watch spectacular passing at home.

Each week we’ll see the LA Galaxy grow more and more with the GBS system.

The midfield figured it out this game. Uriel Antuna was a stud. But, Minnesota actually scored their first goal on a shot that Bingham should’ve saved.

It should be noted that not only did the Galaxy play well, this Minnesota team is a team that has grown a lot and is a contender. That they had to travel could’ve been part of it, but the G’s really controlled the game. Some fun stats: Galaxy had 62% possession. Completed 497 passes with a 87% completion rate. Had 20 shots with 17 chances created.

And they pulled it off without Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini, which was a big concern. Joe Corona got comfortable in the week that had past. Many other injuries have kept key players out and have given other players like Julian Araujo his debut.

The Galaxy were relentless and capitalized on the pressure.

Osvaldo Alonso, who recently joined Minnesota from a long stint with the Seattle Sounders, took down Antuna in the box, gifting the Galaxy a penalty, which was taken by JDS to put the Galaxy up in the 36′ after VAR review.

Ema Boateng found a streaking Rolf Feltscher who crossed to Chris Pontius and made it 2-0 at the half. By then the offense was clicking.

Lletget, who has a broken nose, risked playing without a mask (he tried to play with it and took it off promptly) scored on an assist from Antuna.

LAG showed that the skills are there, but aren’t up to par. The final score was 3-2. The Loons scored a late goal on a Skjelvik giveaway. The original header went off the post and Feltscher just watched the ball. So, the defense is still a weakness.

Alessandrini trained outside and Zlatan reportedly trained indoors as of March 19th. I would infer it means they’re on the mend.

We’ll see how the Galaxy do in their next match when they host a struggling Portland Timbers at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, March 31 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The Galaxy depend on your support, Galaxy Fam.

Featured image: @lagalaxy on instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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Loons drop three points to Galaxy

Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By: Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell 

Thankfully, supporting a MLS team in the Central Time Zone only rarely requires the addition of naps and coffee to the pregame regimen, but that was the case on Saturday, March 16, for Minnesota United’s faithful who hoped to see the Loons take their third straight win on the road against LA Galaxy. The 9:30 P.M. kickoff also meant there were more United fans on hand at the Black Hart of St. Paul (the MN Dark Clouds new home base in the shadow of Allianz Field) for the bar’s other entertainment:

That quip from Dina Delicious leaves no doubt that drag queens and soccer fans can coexist in what is simultaneously the city’s oldest gay bar and newest soccer bar. (Click here to learn more about the Black Hart of St. Paul and the people who make it great, Dina included.) And I think Dina was right about the Loons.

Though Minnesota fielded the same Starting XI for the third straight week against a Galaxy squad in a state of constant flux (with Joe Corona only recently added and offensive stalwarts being plucked one by one from the pitch by injury since opening night), there was one notable absence from the Loons’ bench that may have upset the balance. Head coach Adrian Heath missed training all week and did not travel with his squad due to needing dental surgery, leaving assistant Mark Watson at the helm of a system he knows well.

But something was off from the opening whistle. Even without Zlatan and Alessandrini, LA ran the game. Uriel Antuna, Sebastien Lletget and Rolf Feltscher picked apart a puzzled Minnesota backline, finding gaping spaces in the box that never should have been open and preventing Minnesota’s midfield from creating any danger off the counterattacks. If not for the sticky fingers of keeper Vito Mannone, Galaxy could have led 4-0 at the break. As it was, the 2-0 deficit was one goal too deep.

While the first half spurred plenty of flashbacks to the gloom and doom of road games past, the second half showed that the Loons know where they need to improve and that they’re willing to put up a united front. There was no in-fighting from the Loons.

Instead, Ike Opara and Romain Metanire kept up their composed leadership, Romario Ibarra and Darwin Quintero did what they could with what they were given and both Angelo Rodriguez and Ethan Finlay showed up big when subbed on for Romario and Rasmus Schuller, respectively. Oh, and Jan Gregus, seeing Lletget step off briefly to see to a bleed from his broken nose, did this:

It is doubtful that the 3-2 loss spells the end of Heath’s midfield experiment (heavy on wingers and light on true forwards), especially considering that, a) Abu Danladi made little impact after subbing on for Miguel Ibarra in the 74th minute and b) Rodriguez pulled up lame from his no-quit goal.

However, it does illustrate the importance of the midfield lane and how it can be used. Gregus found it and his effort earned him Man of the Match honors.

In my opinion, dropping three points takes the target off of United’s back. Ending the night fourth in the West gives the Loons plenty to play for while the two-win streak (regardless of the opponent) gives the squad confidence that it can in fact be done. And a perfectly timed international break gives them time to reflect on that.

Minnesota United goes back on the road Saturday, March 30, to face New England Revolution, coffee not required.

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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The Houston Dynamo Take Blood, Sweat, and Points At Home

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Top photo: MLSFemale photographer Leslie Chairez perfectly captures the moment before Alberth Elis (foreground) places the ball at Memo Rodriguez’s feet for a goal.

This weekend, the Houston Dynamo hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps, their second Canadian opponent in as many MLS pairings.

Image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

Coming off a 1-0 loss in Mexico that took them out of the CONCACAF Champions League, the men in orange were surprisingly emboldened. Their showing at Estadio Universitario against Tigres was an improved effort to their first leg at home, and they showed a crowd of over 41,000 Tigres fans an impressive level of play. But Saturday, ready to focus squarely on the MLS competition (until Lamar Hunt kicks off in May), the Dynamo set their sights on the Whitecaps.

One of the most notable moments of the match came late in the 76th minute as a no-fault collision in the Whitecaps’ box led to Houston’s Mauro Manotas and Vancouver’s Andy Rose being treated for head injuries. Manotas received gauze and a head wrap, while Rose seemed to get the worst of it. He bled profusely and left the match under concussion protocol, having to be assisted off of the pitch.

The Whitecaps had used their last substitution moments before the collision and were forced to finish the match down a man. At the end of the match, as the coaches met briefly, the concern in Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera’s face was clear, and I’m sure that he was expressing hope for a full recovery for Rose.

Image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

While the mid-60s temperatures bordered on cool for Houstonians, the weather is always a factor in these early matches when snow-accustomed teams migrate south to begin the MLS season each spring. There is simply no way for teams from the north to be fully prepared for the Houston environment. In addition to the heat, Houston’s annual spring pollen has recently draped the city in a layer of yellow, and allergy-related ailments are tough to push through.

The match was chilly early on as the cloud cover kept the sun at bay. By the half, most fans had shed their extra layers as the sun came out and gave the day a warmer summer feel. The rising heat index led to increasingly chippy play, lots of late cards, and other uncalled fouls for both sides.

Pollen on the lake and pollen footprints on the deck illustrate the extent to which the Houston area is blanketed with allergens this time of year. – Photos by Darbi Lockridge, from her back porch.

Cabrera’s lineup replaced one of his traditional three forward attackers with midfielder Memo Rodriguez, which I believe to be the key to the Dynamo’s continued offensive magic. Forward Alberth Elis scored his first goal of the season off a penalty and was instrumental with assists in the other two goals scored by Rodriguez. Memo’s brace held the Dynamo up to a 3-2 victory against the Whitecaps.

Their seven-point start to the 2019 season is the best on record for this team and could hearken the coming of a new dominance in the Western Conference for the Dynamo, which have often held an underdog status. After playing seven matches in under a month, the Dynamo and the fans are eager to recuperate through the break before meeting the Colorado Rapids in our first away match on March 30.

Featured image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

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Sounders Hold on to Early 2-0 Lead to Beat the Rapids

Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

While the 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in soccer, the Seattle Sounders were able to hold off the Colorado Rapids for over 80 minutes at CenturyLink Field Saturday after scoring 2 goals in less than 10 minutes.

While it was a shock to some and a joy to all, Kelvin Leerdam notched the opening goal for the second week in a row. In the fifth minute, Brad Smith sent a cross in to the box that created a mad dash of ricochets and poor clearances. Leerdam somehow ended up with the ball at his feet and hammered home a left-footed beauty that sailed past the Colorado keeper, Tim Howard.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

In the 8th minute, Raul Ruidiaz smashed home his second goal of the season by finishing off a stellar cross from Victor Rodriguez.

Starting Off Hot?

The Sounders have notoriously played catch-up their past few seasons, including their back-to-back appearances in the MLS Cup Final. With Leerdam and Ruidiaz both notching their second goals of the season and Morris bagging a brace the previous game, the Sounders now have three players with more than one goal.

Last season, the Sounders did not have more than one player with multiple goals until June. The victory on the night also signifies the Sounders first 2-0 start to a season since 2015. While it’s definitely early, the team is certainly making a statement.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Keeping A Clean Sheet

While Stefan Frei wasn’t truly tested during the match, the backline and goalkeeper looked seriously solid while putting up a clean sheet. Brad Smith and Victor Rodriguez show signs of being an increasingly powerful wing combo, producing multiple strong runs and overlaps throughout the game. Leerdam’s ability to contribute goals is something he has accomplished at previous clubs and is a welcome change from the usually predominant defensive role he has played with the Sounders.

Image: Jill Peck/mlsfemale

Road Test Ahead

After two dominant performances at home, the Sounders now travel to Chicago next Saturday (3/16) and Vancouver at the end of the month (3/30), following a bye-week during International Friendlies. The road games will be a true test for the team who has always performed better at home.

Featured & all images: @jillmpeck on Instagram

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FC Dallas – LA Galaxy

By Sahara Clay // @SaharaClayMLSF

FC Dallas played LA Galaxy this weekend in Toyota Stadium. It was a sunny Texas day in March and the stadium was packed full of adoring fans. However, there was one question on everyone’s mind: where is Zlatan?

From the beer garden, chants rang out of “Where is your Zlatan?” and “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight,” obvious taunts at LA. However, these calls were incredibly valid.

FC Dallas made a huge mistake of marketing Zlatan and this game as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch him play when he was nowhere to be found. Even more embarrassingly, they ran these ads at halftime when it was painstakingly apparent Zlatan would not be found on the pitch.

For such a hyped-up match, nothing much seemed to happen. Yes, FC Dallas won 2-0, but was it the game of a lifetime? Hardly.

In my opinion, Paxton Pomykal was the standout of the match, even though Reto Ziegler and Bryan Acosta scored the two goals of the match. No one showed as much hustle on the field as Pomkykal in every single minute of the game.

In fact, Pomykal is partially responsible for Bryan Acosta’s first MLS goal. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Luchi Gonzalez pushes Pomykal in his debut season as FC Dallas’ coach.

I would love to see Pomykal as a starter this season as his confidence grows on the field. He only gets better. Gonzalez stressed the importance of possession throughout the preseason and Dallas did a great job of implementing that this match.

We ended the match with 64% possession of the ball and even had a whopping 59 uninterrupted passes.

Other notable moments of the match included Edwin Cerillo’s MLS debut after an awesome preseason. Although Cerillo only joined the game in the 79th minute, he had a solid start, with his first touch being a clearance of Joe Corona’s free kick.

Jesse Gonzalez also had a notable save on the field – arguably one of the best of the week – in the 91st minute. His short reaction time saves are some of the best in MLS. Gonzalez and the Homegrowns certainly had an amazing day on the field – pointing towards a promising season if we can keep it up

Featured image: @FCDallas

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Sporting KC dominates in 2-0 home opener victory

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City finally kicked off the regular season at home with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union to an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday.

After dropping the MLS season opener in Los Angeles and the first leg in Panama for the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, Sporting KC switched gears and returned to Kansas City.

Missing Roger Espinoza due to red card suspension and Andreu Fontás to an injury – a reshuffled lineup introduced 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio, the youngest MLS starter in Children’s Mercy Park history.

Busio wasted little time proving his starting role, drawing a penalty kick in the ninth minute after Johnny Russell and Krisztian Nemeth exchanged passes in the penalty area. In a scramble to win the ball, the Union’s Auston Trusty tripped Busio from behind, and referee Chris Penso immediately called the foul. Ilie Sanchez stepped up and converted the penalty kick to give the home side the early lead.

Moments later, the Union would have a chance to equalize after Seth Sinovic was called for handball infraction inside the box, but as luck would have it – goalkeeper Tim Melia was a game changer as he dove low to push away Marco Fabian’s attempt, securing Sporting KC’s 1-0 lead into the half. Melia earned his eighth penalty kick save since joining the club in 2015, surpassing his former mentor; Nick Rimando’s record of five penalty kick saves.

The Union was reduced to 10 men after Fabian received a straight red card in the 60th minute. Graham Zusi sent a thunderous strike to see it miss the goal by inches and bounce off the post. Minutes later, Melia was called back into action catching the ball mid-air off a header by Cory Burke.

The 16-year-old midfielder earned a chance to score his first MLS goal in the 77th minute; after Ilie sent a pass over the top falling to Busio, who then try to run the ball into an open net but was denied by a last-minute save by Trusty.

Own goals. We love own goals.

In the 80th minute, Kelyn Rowe sent a pass to Gerso Fernandes but Philadelphia’s Jack Elliott intercepted the play; and instead of clearing out the danger, Elliott kicked the ball past Blake doubling Sporting’s lead 2-0. Even though it technically wasn’t counted as an assist for Rowe, we’ll make an exception.

The last ten minutes saw both sides exchange passes until the final whistle awarding Sporting KC a 2-0 shutout and three points.

Sporting KC will prepare to host Panamanian side Independent in the decisive second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals; before going back on the road to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, March 17.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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LAFC chop down the Timbers 4-1 in second straight win

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club is proving they are the club to beat this season following a 4-1 dramatic win over the Portland Timbers at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

After nabbing their first victory of 2019 against Sporting Kansas City last weekend, LAFC extended their winning streak – with goals by Mark-Anthony Kaye, Christian Ramirez, Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela.

LAFC had a chance to take the early lead in the 10th minute when Kaye intercepted Portland’s ball at the top of their box. He quickly chipped it over Portland’s back line to Ramirez, but it was just out of Ramirez’s reach – sending it over the net.

Just four minutes later, Kaye gets another chance to score and headed one home off a corner kick from the captain Vela, leaving a stunned Jeff Attinella in place. It was Kaye’s first goal since suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year.

After some back and forth, LAFC’s early lead wouldn’t last long. The Timbers’ first real threat came after a corner swung into the top of the six-yard line – Tyler Miller was quick to catch it. But the danger wasn’t over yet. Jeremy Ebobisse managed to break through off a free kick for the equalizer in the 29th minute.

LAFC had to adjust fast again after Latif Blessing – that played right back for the first time – entered for Steven Beitashour, who was subbed off in the 32nd minute due to injury. Beitashour had suffered a blow to the head while defending LAFC’s box before either team opened the scoring, and evaluated for a possible concussion on the sideline. But no further information has been released.

After an intricate sequence of plays starting in the back – Carlos Vela, passed two or three defenders to Jordan Harvey that sent it to Christian Ramirez; who gets the low cross and doubled the lead, 2-1.

The Timbers’ came close to closing the deficit with Ebobisse looking to level the match again. He ran up the middle and before the ball left his foot; Walker Zimmerman stopped him in his tracks with a goal-saving tackle.

Fresh off the bench, Diomande slides one home off of a cross from Vela in the 65th minute. He also delivered the game-winning goal last Sunday.

Carlos Vela secured LAFC’s win with his first goal of the season after curling his shot around Attinella and nestled the ball into the side of the net – Vela also earned three assists that evening.

Moments after Vela’s goal, LAFC gained an advantage as Diego Chara received a straight red on a second caution for a foul on Diego Rossi. Portland would go on to play with ten men.

The black-and-gold stayed focused for the remainder of the half, ending the match 4-1 – earning their second consecutive win at home.

LAFC will look to stay undefeated on the road as they travel to New York City to face NYCFC on Sunday, March 17.

Photo credit: Daisy Jimenez/mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1

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LA Galaxy Fall 2-0 on the road Against FC Dallas

Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Lineups:

Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Diego Polenta, Jorgen Skjelvik; Sebastian Lletget (Efrain Alvarez 59’), Jonathan dos Santos ©, Joe Corona; Ema Boateng (Ethan Zubak 75’), Chris Pontius, Uriel Antuna

FC Dallas took full advantage of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s mistakes Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Real chances weren’t created. The first half was a battle for possession. Emmanuel Boateng and Sebastian Lletget both had chances to score early on. Uriel Antuna almost made a goal on what was meant to be a cross in the 28′ but it hit the corner of the post.

Dallas could have scored on a wide open net in the 37′ but Jimmy Maurer missed it.

In stoppage time of the first half, Rolf Feltscher had a shot right off the crossbar and moments later Chris Pontius almost had a header.

It was the second half when the Galaxy got punished. The home team were awarded a penalty after Diego Polenta kicked a defender right in his side in the box.

The absences of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini were strongly felt.

Injuries are out of the control of the players and coach, so it’s how the team adjusts to these changes that is key.

They’re slow and it’s clear the team didn’t know what to do when they had the ball, which was dire in front of the net. Boateng bested an FCD defender and then missed a crucial shot on an open net.

The ones really let down are the fans. Traveling supporters kept their spirits up though and were the only ones heard in Toyota stadium.

The best and the only attack came from 16-year-old Efrain Alvarez, who hasn’t ceased to amaze in only his second game with the LA Galaxy. His shot came in stoppage time, right on goal. But FCD’s keeper made the save to deny the teen from scoring and maintained his clean sheet.

This match really showed the Galaxy need to develop structure and play as a team. The passion and attack were missing as well. There’s plenty of talent, but they’re utilizing their skills individually. Even Daniel Steres came through to defend until he didn’t. Feltscher did his own thing, earning himself a yellow card in the 21’ for his tackle on Michael Barrios. Joe Corona didn’t get much time on the ball. Pontius wasn’t coming through either.

Lletget had to be subbed in 59’ after taking an elbow to the face and getting a bloody nose that took him out of play. He just can’t stop getting injured. Prior to that though, he did have a fantastic curl that went just too wide.

Boateng was finally subbed in the 76’ giving homegrown LA Academy and LA Galaxy II rising player Ethan Zubak his debut.

Jonathan Dos Santos took on the role of captain, which was a good move as he’s also shown leadership skills and can step up when needed. He is integral to the midfield creating chances.

LAG problems with defense are not new. The backline hasn’t had any changes. However, General Manager te Kloese and Head Coach Schelotto have made moves to build offense and depth. Once again, this team is a work in progress. LA Galaxy II Open Tryout Diedie Traore has also just signed with LAG after acquiring an international spot from Columbus Crew SC.

Expectations need to be kept realistic, which doesn’t mean standards need to be lowered. At this point, fans are hoping just to qualify for the playoffs. Considering both teams had highs and lows this match, there’s still plenty of reasons to keep the faith as Galaxy fans.

The LA Galaxy’s next challenge is Saturday, March 16 against Minnesota United at Dignity Health Sports Park. Kickoff is set for 6pm PST.

Featured image: @LAGalaxy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @mchuitink

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