Category Archives: Los Angeles FC

Los Angeles FC

Match Preview: LAFC vs. Montreal Impact

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continues to cross teams off their revenge list. And FC Dallas was the latest victim.

The two clubs squared off in back-to-back matches with LAFC claiming revenge first as they handed Dallas their first loss in the series in a 2-0 win at the Banc of California Stadium. However, a few days later, the black-and-gold wrapped up another series by splitting points at Toyota Stadium.

Now the club will turn its focus onto another opponent coming in from the North, the Montreal Impact.

LAFC will host the Impact for the first time for their second meeting. The first time these clubs met was in Montreal on April 21, 2018, in which the black-and-gold claimed all three points in a 5-3 win.

Graphics courtesy of the MLS app

The Impact currently holds a 4-4-2 record on the road, while LAFC remains undefeated at home (6-0-1).

Players to look for:

Carlos Vela is not human. There, I said it.

The Mexican captain scored a single goal in both matches of the Dallas series – adding to his already rising MLS career goal account. And he is one goal away from surpassing his previous 2018 total of 14 goals.

Andre Horta and Lee Nguyen made their long-awaited return to the pitch as late substitutions on May 16. A few days later, the duo appeared in the starting lineup for Sunday’s match along with Mohamed El-Munir.

And of course, I like to take a quick moment to recognize two players who’ve reached new career milestones this week:

  • Walker Zimmerman has now played 10,000 minutes in MLS.
  • Steven Beitashour became the first defender in MLS history with 35+ assists and 20,000+ minutes played.

One player out on injury:

Bradley again will nearly have a full roster to choose from with only Steven Beitashour out due to a left hamstring strain, an injury he picked up in the last match against FC Dallas. Alejandro Guido is listed as questionable.

Projected LAFC Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Josh Perez; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Piatti returns:

The Impact welcomed back Ignacio Piatti, after a two-month injury in a scoreless draw against the New England Revolution last weekend.

However, similar to the return of Horta and Nguyen, Piatti appeared as a second-half sub when he entered for Mathieu Choinière in the 66th minute. So I wouldn’t rule out a starting position but given Friday’s contest will be his second game back – he could start on the bench.

Montreal Impact’s Roster:

Montreal has three players out that could impact them:

Defender Clement Bayiha and midfielder Omar Browne are out due to injury.

Samuel Piette will also miss the match because of yellow card accumulation. Piette received his fifth caution in the last match against the New England Revolution snapping his club record of 51 consecutive starts. His disappearance in the midfield could give the home side an advantage.

Projected Montreal Impact Starting XI

(4-3-3): Evan Bush; Zachary Brault-Guillard, Zakaria Diallo, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; Shamit Shome, Michael Azira, Saphir Taider; Orji Okwonkwo, Maxi Urruti, Mathieu Choinière.

What is your match prediction?

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The Kings of the West: LAFC bounces back in 3-0 win over Columbus Crew

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club returned to its winning ways in a 3-0 win over the Columbus Crew at MAPFRE stadium on Saturday. Mark-Anthony Kaye, Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela scored all three winning goals of the night.

With a full roster available, there were no changes in the lineup. Tristian Blackmon was among the players who returned to the bench. In what was arguably a must-win situation for the Crew, I’m not sure if the pressure from LAFC but the home side made a lot of mistakes. And the Black-and-Gold was able to capitalize on those easy opportunities.

LAFC had two solid chances to open the scoring with Kaye and Diego Rossi after the whistle blew. Kaye tried to sneak one in past Joe Bendik, unfortunately, his low shot whizzed past the post. In the 31st minute, Rossi hit a curler off of a cross from the Mexican international. But it glided just slightly over the crossbar.

However, the club earned another chance to score in the 37th minute, as Latif Blessing served the 24-year-old midfielder the ball from the top of the box and Kaye flawlessly kicked the ball home.

The Crew was in pursuit of the equalizer and nearly got their opportunity as Robinho sent a pass to Pedro Santos, who fired a rocket down the center. Fortunately, Tyler Miller was in the right place at the right time and came up huge to deny Santos in the 59th minute – earning his fifth clean sheet.

In the 74th minute, the Crew almost pull level but former LA Galaxy forward, Gyasi Zardes saw his goal called back after being called offsides.

The latter part of the half saw all the action with back-to-back goals by Diomande and Vela. First up, a crucial error and a substitution hot off the bench secured the lead for the Black-and-Gold. Josh Perez ran the ball outside the net deflecting off the post, and miscommunication between Bendik and Jonathan Mensah – gave Diomande the opening he needed to hit the rebound to double the score.

Moments later, it was the captain’s turn. It came off of Vela’s dangerous left foot into the back of the net – scoring his 12th goal of the season.

The boys rallied in the final minutes of stoppage time to secure the 3-0 victory and remain atop of the Western Conference standings.

The club will return to LA with all three points and gear up for another two-game series with FC Dallas. LAFC will host them on Thursday, May 16 and then travel to Dallas for the second leg just three days later.

Photo credit: Columbus Crew

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela, Match Preview, Gold Links

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Columbus, here we come!

Coming off back-to-back draws, LAFC will look to return to its winning form as they travel to MAPFRE stadium to face the Columbus Crew this Saturday, May 11.

LAFC is currently leading the all-time series with one win on June 23 in a 2-0 victory at the Banc of California stadium. However, the Black-and-Gold fell to the Crew during the preseason. Saturday marks the third meeting between the clubs

*Image provided by the MLS’ app

Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, and Latif Blessing remain a dangerous trio in the midfield. Eddie Segura and Walker Zimmerman are becoming a stronger pair every match. The two center backs may not be able to speak the same language. But they allow the universal language of football to speak for them. And the with a roster back to full health, the club will hopefully utilize every opportunity.

Especially after the Crew defeated the New England Revolution on Wednesday in a 5-0 win – following a five-game losing streak and will likely enter this weekend’s match as a must-win situation.

What are your match predictions?

Back at full health

The roster seems to be back at full health with only defender Danilo Silva and midfielders Alejandro Guido and Javi Pérez listed as questionable.

Head Coach Bob Bradley has nearly a full team to choose from as there are no players out for tomorrow’s competition.

Adama Diomande and Andre Horta appeared in the eighteen last week coming off of long injuries. Dio entered the match in the 75th minute for Steven Beitashour – whom also returned to the starting XI due to injury.

With another two-game series within days of each other on the horizon – I am expecting a little rotation in the roster, if not on the bench for Columbus.

Projected LAFC Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Carlos Vela earns back-to-back MLS Player of the Month honors

There is really no stopping the Mexican International captain at this point.

On Tuesday, Carlos Vela was voted the MLS Player of the Month for the month of April of the 2019 MLS season. Along with back-to-back MLS honors – Vela is dominating the league in three categories: goals (11), shots (60), and shots on goal (24).

According to LAFC’s Digital Manager, Vince La Rosa: Vela becomes just the seventh-ever player to earn the honors in consecutive months after earning Player of the Month accolades in the first month of the 2019 campaign.

The club’s captain finished April with five goals and two assists over five contests, helping the Black-and-Gold earn a 3-1-1 record. His 16 combined goals and assists are also the most by any player in the opening 10 games of a season in MLS history.

Gold Links

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LAFC hops over Seattle Sounders in 4-1 win

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Following a mid-week disaster on the road in Vancouver, the Los Angeles Football Club came back in the biggest way possible by handing the Seattle Sounders their first season loss in a 4-1 victory on Sunday at the Banc of California Stadium.

Donning the new vibrant navy blue Parley jerseys for Earth Day weekend, LAFC was unstoppable from start to finish. They held 58% possession, used space to keep the ball in the center of the pitch – creating dangerous plays in the visitor’s box. Additionally, the match saw the return of Lee Nguyen, who missed the last three matches due to an injury; he entered as a substitution for Steven Beitashour in the 89th minute.

Carlos Vela has been on fire this season and last night was no different, as the forward snagged the early lead in the 12th minute for the black-and-gold. The Mexican captain would go on to score his 10th goal of the season in the 55th minute answering Harry Shipp’s goal – which got Seattle on the board, four minutes prior. Last season he recorded 14 goals total and is well on his way to breaking that record. But he wasn’t the only one having a good night.

Mark-Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta had a dominant performance, with both in the heart of midfield. The duo ran the show with a combined one goal and four assists. They were, as MLS’ Jonathan Sigal described, “tempo-setters, disruptive forces, creators and finishers.” With the addition of Latif Blessing, the trio provided LAFC the control it needed.

Of course, we need to talk about Christian Ramirez. His goal might not win Goal of the Week, but what a beautiful play it was. He back-heeled centrally to Kaye, who then sent a through ball straight through the back line and Ramirez curled it home from close range. What is even more admirable, is that not even 10 minutes after making the goal, Ramirez rushed back to the home side’s net to help prevent a dangerous opportunity from Seattle.

Even though Shipp managed to slip past Tyler Miller in the 51st minute, the 26-year-old keeper came up huge twice to preserve LAFC’s undefeated at home streak.

The remainder of the match saw LAFC try to add a fifth goal to the total but Stefan Frei denied Peter-Lee Vassell from a close range – ending the match 4-1.

LAFC won round one of the ‘Best in the West’ battle, remaining atop the Western Conference. The club will travel to Seattle, where the Sounders are undefeated at Century Link Stadium for round two next Sunday.

Featured image: Mark-Anthony Kaye IG // @markthewizzz

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LA Galaxy stay hot as they shut out Vancouver Whitecaps in 2-0 Win

LA Galaxy Contributor

By Debbie Haar // @GalaxySoccerMom

Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Dave Romney, Jorgen Skjelvik (Diedie Traore 88′), Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget, Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna (Emmanuel Boateng 84′), Romain Alessandrini (Chris Pontius 82′) and Zlatan Ibrahimović

In front of a crowd of more than 22,000, the L.A. Galaxy won their fourth game of the season when they overpowered the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. Zlatan made the decision not to play on turf last year due to a significant knee injury sustained in April 2017, but decided to take the risk this time and played the entire 90 minutes.

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JOB DONE ✅

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The first half of the game, both teams were out of sync and appeared to be unable to find their groove, struggling to keep possession of the ball and see it through to goal. In the second minute of the game, Jorgen Sjkelvic fouled Lass Bangoura in the box resulting in a disastrous panenka attempt by newcomer Ali Adnan. David Bingham easily kept the failed shot out of the net while the players and fans looked around in disbelief.

Center back Diego Polenta was out with a strained abductor leaving the Galaxy’s backline struggling to effectively work together. However, Bingham was a force to be reckoned with in the goal with 5 saves.

The Galaxy came back from half time with a renewed energy and quickly took control of the game. Zlatan got the ball in the net but it was called back for off side. In the 62nd minute Zlatan provided an assist to Daniel Steres who headed the ball in for the first goal of the game. It was his second goal of the season. Zlatan then scored his fourth goal of the season off an assist by Rolf Feltscher, a ball he was able to torpedo past Whitecaps keeper Maxime Crepeau.

Up next for the Galaxy is a home game against Philadelphia Union on Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 PM PST.

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Hat Trick Hero: LAFC Tops D.C. United 4-0

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club downs D.C. United 4-0 in a battle between the two best teams in each conference on Saturday afternoon at Audi Field. Diego Rossi‘s hat trick led to the statement shutout victory to stay atop the Western Conference (and league standings) with a now 5-0-1 record.

Head Coach Bob Bradley fielded the same lineup from the thunderous 5-0 shoutout in San Jose last week. Perhaps, this lineup is finally clicking? It must be. Because LAFC would earn a comfortable 3-0 lead just before the half.

In the 10th minute, Jordan Harvey chased down a long ball in the left wing and tried to send the cross. D.C. United’s Leonardo Jara blocked the cross on a sliding effort, awarding LAFC the penalty.

What would seem like a magical moment for Carlos Vela, who scored his first hat trick last week, saw his chance be thwarted by Bill Hamid, who dove left to save the penalty.

Five minutes later, Adama Diomande pressured the backline forcing a giveaway. Diomande gave the ball to the Mexican captain who ran it up, cut inside with his dangerous left foot into the upper left corner past Hamid – giving the black and gold the lead they were looking for earlier.

In the 52nd minute, D.C. United’s captain, Wayne Rooney was shown a red after digging his cleat into Rossi’s right leg in a sliding tackle for the ball. Rooney was originally given a caution but upgraded to red after the play underwent review. Rooney’s departure gave LAFC some relief as the captain had logged three free kicks that evening.

Now playing with ten men, D.C. United would find one opportunity but Lucas Rodriguez’s attempt found the side of the netting.

Steven Beitashour and Tyler Miller are the keeper duo we didn’t know we needed. A free kick conceded by Beitashour in the 57th minute resulted in a dangerous opportunity for D.C. The resulting cross was mishandled by a jumping Miller. D.C. put the loose ball on net twice: the first saved by Miller and the second redirected off the goal line by Beitashour.

With 20 minutes left and a solid 3-0 lead, Bradley started making substitutions. His first was replacing Harvey with Mohamed El-Munir to make his LAFC debut.

Rossi scored the hat trick in the 76th minute after finding himself alone with Hamid and finishes low to left corner – securing the black-and-gold’s 4-0 victory, as well marking history for the club.

A brief scare came in the 80th minute when Miller landed hard on his right side. The 26-year-old keeper was down briefly but managed to collect himself back up and quickly jumped back into action. Unlike Diomande’s injury he acquired earlier, Miller appeared to be fine.

The rest of the match saw both sides go back and forth with LAFC controlling more than half of the possession, ultimately extending their undefeated run in a 4-0 win.

LAFC will return to the Banc to host FC Cincinnati for the first time on Saturday, April 13.

Photo credit: LAFC

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LAFC Shakes Up San Jose In 5-0 Win

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continued their undefeated run in a 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on Saturday – the largest win in club history.

As fans shook the stadium (literally!), LAFC wasted little time gaining possession as the midfield devastated San Jose’s approach. The trio: Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, and Latif Blessing, were all well in sync leading the way.

In the eight minute, Daniel Vargas’ error would leave an open net for the Mexican captain as he casually walked in a goal to open the scoring account for the visitors.

Former Quakes, Steven Beitashour and Diego Rossi, also added a goal of their own, respectively. Rossi nearly got the early lead in the fifth minute; after forcing a turnover he found himself 1-on-1 with the goal but his shot was saved.

Although San Jose won in terms of possession at 52.1%, LAFC was sharp in retrieving the ball after losing it. The Earthquakes did manage to break through LAFC’s defense twice but saw both opportunities saved by Tyler Miller – who earned his first clean sheet of the season.

Carlos Vela. Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate this captain. Vela, who continues to lead the league has scored some special goals during his tenure with LAFC, but his hat trick proved to be his best. It was his 20th since his arrival in the MLS, and sixth this season.

After bagging his second goal just before the half, it wouldn’t take long for the Mexican International to curl home his first hat trick in the 66th minute.

LAFC remains on the road as they travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and company on Saturday, April 6.

Photo credit: LAFC

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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

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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.

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LAFC Opens 2019 With a Stunning 2-1 Comeback

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club kicked off their 2019 campaign in a thrilling 2-1 comeback over Sporting Kansas City at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

After falling to SKC twice last year, LAFC found redemption Sunday night thanks to a pair of goals by Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande. Jordan Harvey who made the game-winning assist – celebrated his 300th MLS appearance. And Peter-Lee Vassell made his official club debut.

With an unchanged lineup following two Concacaf Champions League matches to advance to the quarterfinals – a vibrant atmosphere at the Banc did little to deter Kansas City from focusing on the task at hand. However, LAFC displayed a determination they lacked last season and held down the pressure on Sporting KC.

In the 16th minute, Krisztian Nemeth took the early lead for the visitors. Nemeth got the ball from outside the box and passed it to Johnny Russell, who returned it to his Hungarian teammate near the penalty spot. Nemeth then sent a low shot past Tyler Miller – scoring his third-straight goal in three consecutive matches.

Sporting would go on to press LAFC’s defense for a chance to double their lead involving a sequence of intricate exchanges between Gerso Fernandes and Johnny Russell; resulted in strikes from Nemeth and Felipe Gutierrez that were all saved by Miller.

LAFC countered with a few passes from Rossi and Carlos Vela. A dramatic first half saw five Sporting KC players receive yellow cards.

Shortly after the restart, Rossi leveled the match. The Uruguayan slid past Graham Zusi and Fernandes to cut inside and curl a shot just inside the far post past Tim Melia.

Sporting again would receive two additional cards with one resulting in a straight red for Roger Espinoza – before sharing a few with LAFC.

Even when down to 10 men, Sporting KC would continue to exchange blows with LAFC. Neither team was willing to compromise and were resilient in the defense. However, a persistent LAFC took back control.

Just when it seemed both teams would settle on a 1-1 draw – Diomande strikes a goal deep into stoppage time giving LAFC their first win of the new season and defeating SKC for the first time.

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