Category Archives: Los Angeles FC

Los Angeles FC

LAFC concludes Rivalry Week with 3-3 Draw at home against the Galaxy

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The rivalry continues.

The Los Angeles Football Club and LA Galaxy battled to a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday night. Despite, coming back from a two-goal deficit, LAFC remains winless against its rival.

The Galaxy struck first just two minutes after the whistle when Cristian Pavon found Zlatan on a run across the box. Ibrahimovic calmly slotted a left-footed finish inside the near post beating Tyler Miller for the opening goal.

In the 12th minute, Steven Beitashour lobbed a cross towards the far post. Diego Rossi headed it back across the goal and out of reach of the keeper for Latif Blessing to send the header home for the equalizer.

However, the Galaxy cut celebrations short by quickly responding with back-to-back goals. Ibrahimovic doubled the score on a breakaway set up by Efrain Alvarez in the 15th minute; before Pavon struck for the Galaxy’s third just one minute after that to cap off the wild start to the match.

Blessing got the last laugh during stoppage time when he collected a deflection off a Galaxy defender, rounded Bingham and lightly taps the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the evening – cutting the deficit to one goal going in the half 3-2.

But the madness did not stop there.

Shortly after the restart whistle, Mark-Anthony Kaye set up a shot for himself outside the box but then passed the ball to Carlos Vela on the wing. Vela led Bingham off his line to slot home his 27th career goal inside the far post to level the match 3-3.

Shortly after his heroic goal, the captain was substituted out in the 61st minute due to a possible right hamstring injury. Visibly upset by the decision – Vela threw down his captain’s armband. However, he was seen going back and forth from the bench to the sidelines to help coach the team – a move we saw him do in Houston this past July.

The new designated player Brian Rodriguez replaced the captain to make his club debut. Defender Jordan Harvey wore the captain’s armband. And Josh Perez, who scored his first goal against San Jose entered for Rossi in the 86th minute. Bradley never used his third final substitution.

Rodriguez quickly went straight after Galaxy’s right back Rolf Feltscher and put the backline under pressure from inside 25 yards, fired the shot straight at the net. But Bingham was there to catch it.

Despite needing to get more familiar with Bradley’s system, in just 30 minutes, the young Uruguayan displayed how comfortable he is with his teammates and looks to be promising for future matches.

LAFC dominated with 65% possession and shot advantage for the final moments of the match, but were unable to find the winning goal.

Walking away with a hard-fought point, the LAFC will continue the race for the Supporters’ Shield on Sunday, September 1 as they host 5th place, Minnesota United.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

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Making History: LAFC Defends The Banc in 4-2 Victory

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continues to shake up the league in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls and remains the only team in the MLS undefeated at home.

Normally, defenders don’t make the highlight reel or some recaps but last night was a special occasion. Defenders Jordan Harvey and Eddie Segura scored their first LAFC goals off of set-pieces – coming off balls played towards the middle of the penalty area by non-other Carlos Vela.

Harvey’s header opened up the scoring sheet in the 23rd minute. And less than two minutes later, a sequence of passes by Eduard Atuesta and Steven Beitashour helped Latif Blessing notch one home to double the score.

However, celebrations would be cut short in the 42nd minute. Blessing made a tackle outside the top of the left side of the box, but the ball rolled to Red Bull’s Cristian Casseres Jr., who sent a low shot near post – pulling one back for the visitors cutting the lead in half.

Tyler Miller was quick to make a diving save in the 44th minute to deny Daniel Royer securing the lead a little longer – just before the Red Bulls made another run at LAFC’s defense to force an own goal by the keeper – leveling the match just before the half.

Mark-Anthony Kaye regained the lead in the 50th minute when he sent a through ball down the middle into the back of the net. But the referee Drew Fischer later disallowed it for a foul outside the box after consulting VAR.

Six minutes later, Blessing almost gave us serious deja vu with another goal by dribbling past two defenders, but an outstretched Luis Robles blocked his attempt.

LAFC proceeded to push on the counters – soon receiving another scoring opportunity when Rece Buckmaster, recently signed from Red Bulls II, got tangled up with Eduard Atuesta who went down inside the box – awarding LAFC the penalty. Vela successfully converted the shot putting the black-and-gold back in front, scoring his 23rd-career goal.

The Mexican captain continues to make history, now tied with the record for most combined goals and assists in a single MLS season.

And just when you thought Bob Bradley would go the full 90 with all starters – he made a double substitution late in the second half sending in Lee Nguyen and Josh Perez replacing Kaye and Diego Rossi.

Segura, who was recently acquired from Colombian side Atletico Huila on a permanent, multi-year deal, notched his first career goal and the game-winner off a free kick from the captain in the 72nd minute.

Perez and Adama Diomande kept knocking on the Red Bulls door for the duration of the match but had difficulty finding the fifth goal. Ultimately, LAFC ended the match by claiming all three points and solidifying their lead at the top of the table even further.

Now with 55 points, a +40 goal differential, and leading the Supporters’ Shield race by 10 points – LAFC will travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to face rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday, August 17.

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

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Player Spotlight: Walker Zimmerman from club and country to MLS All-Stars

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

It’s that time of the year when the best players of Major League Soccer join together to face a European foe in the MLS All-Star showdown. The Los Angeles Football Club had four players selected to represent the club and among them is first-timer, Walker Zimmerman.

The Georgia native, a seven-year MLS veteran, has played for both club and country – but receiving his first MLS All-Star call up is a goal he can proudly cross off the list.

“It’s something that entering the league would be a goal of mine – to make sure to put myself in that conversation. And to finally get selected for my first [MLS All-Star game]; I’m excited […] and appreciative of all my teammates along the way who have helped me develop the skills back in Dallas [and] LAFC.”

The 26-year-old defender first learned the news of his selection while on the road with the United States National Men’s Team during the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Zimmerman was a major building block for LAFC’s backline in 2018 as LAFC set a single-season MLS points record for an expansion club. And continues to be a threat in set-piece attacking situations this year – tallying a total of 5 goals and 43 appearances, thus far. Including, reaching a new milestone on May 19 – recording 10,000 minutes in MLS.

Next milestone has got be an MLS Cup for me. I think that’s the one that I really want. And it completes the Supporters Shield, the [Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup], and then MLS Cup is what I really need.”

Before joining the record-breaking club, Walker spent five seasons with FC Dallas before being traded to LAFC on December 10, 2017. The defender re-signed to a four-year deal using allocation money this January.

When he’s not saving balls off the line for LAFC or the USMNT, he’s hosting interviews with teammates, fans, and other guests on his podcast, “The Locker Room.” And is looking forward to doing a collaboration with the “Back-To-Back” podcast – hosted by his fellow teammates, Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey.

“Being interested in communications and wanting to get something out there, to get some experience – I decided to get my toes wet a little bit. And it’s been good, very enlightening, very challenging, [and] I’ve had some great guests on the show,” He continued. “It’s been good for me to […] understand what it’s like on the other side of the microphone to bring out conversations, stories, [and] bring out things that are going to inspire other people.”

Perhaps shortly, we will get an All-Star filled episode with Walker sharing stories from his week in Florida.

Until then, Zimmerman will join fellow teammates: Carlos Vela, Mark-Anthony Kaye, and Diego Rossi in Orlando, Florida this Wednesday as the MLS-All Stars face Atlético Madrid.

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LAFC Wins At Home 4-3 In A Peachy Way

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club returns to its old winning ways in a close 4-3 victory; defeating the reigning MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United for the first time in franchise history at the Banc of California stadium.

The win is great. But it was a close call.

A slight change in the starting XI saw Pablo Sisniega in goal. And with Tristian Blackmon on the injury list, Steven Beitashour returned to the full back position on the right. Head Coach Bob Bradley was vague in the reasoning of why Tyler Miller was on the bench – we can only assume he’s testing both keepers at this point.

The match kicked off with LAFC watching hopelessly as Atlanta scored the opening goal within minutes of the whistle. Mo Adams struck in the rebound – marking his first goal in his first MLS appearance for the visitors.

The black-and-gold answered in a big way by scoring three goals in a 12-minute action-packed period.

Mark-Antony Kaye sent the through ball to Adama Diomande who tapped it home past Brad Guzan for the equalizer in the 33rd minute. And then things got fun.

In the 38th minute, Diego Rossi passed the ball through traffic from the middle to Carlos Vela, who then sent it back to him at the top of the box – Rossi sent it home with one touch to double the lead.

Four minutes later, Carlos Vela drew the penalty. The captain stepped up to convert – scoring his 22nd MLS-career goal.

The captain found Diomande in the penalty area. He sent it to a waiting Atuesta near the goal – who in true Eduard Atuesta style, smoothly turned and shot it home for the club’s fourth goal of the night.

Then here comes Atlanta’s Josef Martinez to kill the party doubling the visitor’s total just before the half. How rude.

Shortly after the restart, Atlanta was quick to put the pressure on a possession-dominating home side – forcing an unfortunate own goal by Eddie Segura that gave Atlanta the push they needed in the 51st minute increasing the score 4-3.

Ten minutes later, it seemed Atlanta would level the match when Martinez attempted to recreate the “Atuesta” and spin around Beitashour. But as the script says, the ball went wide of the net.

Lee Nguyen entered the pitch as a substitute for Beitashour in the 63rd minute and got straight to work with moves like these:

In the 84th minute, the MLS All-Star Walker Zimmerman was close to adding one of his own goals to the total with the header but Guzan was there to save it.

Defenders are expected to sacrifice their bodies for the club and Jordan Harvey did just that in the 89th minute. The 30-year-old made a diving block to deny Julian Gressel who had a clear shot on target.

Atlanta had five chances to equalize and escape with a point during the latter part of the half. But thankfully an energetic team and Sisniega saved the day – leading the black-and-gold to another victory and staying undefeated at home with a 9-0-1 record.

Still sitting atop of the table of the Western Conference, the black-and-gold cushioned their lead even more with 49 points. But it is clear the team still needs to work on defending as the road gets harder.

Next up. LAFC will travel to the east coast to visit the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium next Saturday, August 3.

Featured Image: @LAFC

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El Trafico: LAFC drops points in Carson

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club‘s winless rivalry streak continues as they lost on the road to the LA Galaxy in a 3-2 scrappy performance. Carlos Vela scored the match’s beginning and ending goals. But Zlatan’s hat trick lifted the home side to victory.

After a chaotic schedule, LAFC finally had a full week to rest and was able to field a full, powerful lineup. However, the midfield lacked energy until the latter part of the match. And the Galaxy took advantage and neutralized them.

The game started off with a bang. Mark-Anthony Kaye connected with Vela, who then drew a penalty from David Bingham in the opening minutes after the keeper came off his line to tackle the captain. Vela stepped up to convert; scoring his 20th MLS career goal and becoming the fastest player in MLS history to reach 20 goals.

However, four minutes later the Galaxy cut celebrations short, as Ibrahimovic matched Vela in the eighth minute. A lobbed pass towards the Swedish striker from midfield landed at his feet. Zlatan lifted the ball over Atuesta with a smooth first touch and then buried a volleyed shot past the diving Tyler Miller inside the close post to restart the game.

After a thrilling ten minutes, both sides started to settle into a rhythm with LAFC continuing to dominate possession – as they did for the entirety of the match with 58.3%.

The Galaxy’s Diego Polenta earned the first of many yellow cards in the 21st minute by sticking a foot out to trip up the surging Tristian Blackmon some ten yards outside the box.

Jair Marrufo handed out a total of nine cards. To be fair, I’m surprised no one got a red card that night.

Miller came up huge again in the 30th minute. Alvarez sent in a header forcing the keeper to go full extension to keep the match level.

Adama Diomande, Eduard Atuesta, and Walker Zimmerman all tried to put LAFC back in the lead before the half. But Bingham was there to save all attempts – similar to how Miller denied the Galaxy’s three back-to-back chances in the 6th minute before Zlatan’s answer.

In the 56th minute, Zlatan doubled the score by heading in Diego Polenta’s cross at the far post.

LAFC soon got their spark back and looked more organized after the double substitution – that saw Lee Nguyen and Mohmmaed El-Munir enter the match, in place of Kaye and Jordan Harvey.

In the 70th minute, Diomande fed a pass wide straight to Rossi with nobody in front of him. He ripped a shot towards the upper near corner that beat Bingham but deflected off the crossbar.

But just as quickly as LAFC regained control of the game, Zlatan snatched it right back.

Zlatan got the cross from Alvarez and dribbled it upfield; sending a left-footed shot from outside the box into the bottom right corner to complete the hat trick in the 71st minute, giving Miller no chance to react.

With an extra five minutes on the clock, LAFC pushed forward desperately trying to take a point. But Diego Rossi’s attempt flew over the bar. Luckily, Vela pulled one back before the ref could blow the whistle. But unfortunately, it would be too little, too late.

Despite the loss, both Vela and Bradley remained optimistic about the future with so many games still ahead. The club remains atop the table with a nine-point cushion.

The black-and-gold will go on to host the Atlanta United at the Banc next Friday, July 26.

Featured Image: @LAFC

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LA Galaxy vs. LAFC: Match Preview

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Dignity Health Sports Complex, Carson, Calif.

When: Friday, July 19th, 7:00 p.m. PT.

How to watch: ESPN, ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980

The highly anticipated fourth chapter of El Trafico is finally here and it’s time to blackout Carson once more!

Following a successful road trip in Houston, the Los Angeles Football Club will travel a grueling twelve miles (two hours by LA traffic) to visit the LA Galaxy – who are currently in third place – in search of their first win of the series.

Going into its second year of “El Trafico,” LAFC is currently 0-1-2. And the league leaders have proven to be a force to be reckoned with as they continue to cross out rivals off the list. With Carlos Vela and Zlatan back in lineup for their club, respectively. This is a match you won’t want to miss.

Image courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

It seems all odds are in favor for the black-and-gold. However, Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey should still be on high alert of not only Zlatan but prevent Uriel Antuna; from getting close on the wings. Antuna had strong performances while with Mexico in the Gold Cup, including a hat trick against Cuba. But he still does not level up to Diego Rossi.

Although Bob Bradley has been testing the waters lately with a slightly altered rotation for each match, I predict he will field a full-strength roster. Hopefully, with Tristian Blackmon back in the center back position. And Mohammad El-Munir, Dejan Jaković, and Peter Lee-Vassell on the bench.

Eduard Atuesta will likely rejoin the roster after serving his yellow card suspension in Houston. And his presence could without a doubt be the match’s game-changer for the black-and-gold, especially as he pairs up with Mark-Anthony Kaye and Latif Blessing in the midfield.

El Trafico, El Clasico, the 12-Mile derby?

No matter how you phrase it. It’s no secret, there is a deep-seeded rivalry between both clubs especially, with the fourth installment of “El Trafico” around the corner in its second year. To help get a deeper insight, I interviewed my colleague at MLSFemale and LA Galaxy reporter, Michelle Huitink.

Araceli Villanueva: It seems the Galaxy has been on a rocky roller coaster ride in their last few matches, recently falling to San Jose this past weekend, how are they expecting to turn things around for Friday’s rally?

Michelle Huitink: I think the Galaxy just needs some rest and have key players back in good shape. Antuna and Dos Santos had just returned from international duty. And Diego Polenta was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Hopefully, Perry Kitchen and Sebastian Lletget can recover in time. The Galaxy knows how important this game is.

They weren’t necessarily outplayed when they were away in San Jose, and they won at home against Toronto FC, but this last match was worrisome. David Bingham came up huge with 13 saves. But I hope it exposed the defense weaknesses in time for them to tighten up and get it together to play against LAFC. The big problem seems to be lack of leadership and heart, so hopefully, morale and passion can be re-ignited so they’ll step it up for this Friday’s match. 

AV: With Jonathan Dos Santos and Uriel Antuna back from international duty – should we expect the Galaxy’s roster to be at full strength or who could be potentially missing the match? 

MH: Anything is possible. I don’t want to see Emmanuel Boateng start because, despite his hustle, he can’t get the cross nor finish in front of the net. But if he does, I’d bring Efrain Alvarez in as a spark off the bench. Hopefully, we will have a full roster. As much as I’d like to see Dave Romney start – Jorgen Skjelvik is a guy you know you can count on in the backline for a match like this. Daniel Steres has earned his spot. He is consistent, can win 1v1 situations and is overall a great defender. And Giancarlo Gonzalez is also a key player; having had some wild defending in the past. Efrain Alvarez can be a real threat. Jonathan in the midfield is legit lethal as a playmaker and a goal scorer. I would like to see Antuna bring that Gold Cup action on the pitch Friday. The Galaxy doesn’t lack talent on paper. And we’ve seen that they can gel well as a team.

As much as I’d like to say it doesn’t matter who we play or because of the rivalry, regardless it’s important at this point in the season for the Galaxy to win. They’ve slipped to 3rd place. So I feel like the fans have been let down and feel uneasy how the team is going to perform. The best START is for Galaxy to show up for El Traffico like they mean it. 

AV: What is your take on the Zlatan yellow card controversy and MLS’ odd explanation for it?

MH: There just needs to be consistency across MLS. Apparently, the yellow against him for the [Sean] Johnson incident doesn’t count. It is what it is. Besides I’d like to think LAFC would want to face a full roster – whatever the case. 

AV: Friday marks the fourth meeting between both rivals. Now in its second year, are fans more hyped for the rivalry? And what additional precautions have the club made for Dignity Park?

MH: There’s definitely going to be heightened awareness and security. They have made it so that there’s no [general admission]. Everyone has an assigned seat. Fans are definitely hyped. For a Friday, I know many are still planning to tailgate, most likely leaving work early. There’s always a concern for hooliganism. 

Bonus question: What is your score prediction?

MH: 2-1. My score prediction is LA Galaxy win but by one goal. If the Galaxy can score early, I think there’s going to be quite the struggle. I don’t really see based on the Galaxy’s past matches that they can keep LAFC from scoring. The club can get shots, it’s the finish that they’ll have to nail. David Bingham should be on top of his game.

Featured Image: Pro Soccer USA

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Breaking Records, Making History: LAFC Continues Its Reign But How Long Will It Last?

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club starts off the second half of the season on the right foot but can they keep it up?

Prior to dominating in 3-1 victory in Houston over the weekend; the black-and-gold was eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals this past Wednesday.

It would have been nice to see the club win the U.S. Open Cup championship that they were so close to claiming last season, but now LAFC will continue their run for the 2019 MLS Cup.

But first, let’s analyze the first part of the season and what I think LAFC could improve moving forward:

League Dominance

LAFC is currently sitting atop of the Western Conference standings with 46 points and has made the Banc a fortress with a 8-0-1 home record. They also have a solid road record of 6-2-3 and are leading the Supporters Shield race.

Below them is tight race in the standings with the Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy, and Minnesota United slowly climbing up all within a point of a each other.

After falling to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road in April for their first loss of the season, the Los Angeles Football Club exacted revenge in a historic 6-1 blowout at the Banc of California stadium on July 6.

It was a statistics dominated match – LAFC has collectively scored 11 goals between both matches – making them the quickest team in MLS history to reach 100 points in the post-shootout era.

Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi continue to be a pain in everyone’s side having collectively scored 30 goals between them. While his teammate ranks first in both categories, Rossi comes in fifth for (66) shots and second for (32) shots on goal.

According to MLS’ playoffs tracker, if the playoffs started tomorrow, LAFC would earn a bye week as the top seed team. And would play the winner of the Minnesota United vs. the San Jose Earthquakes match in the western conference semifinals.

But considering Decision Day is October 6 with playoffs beginning on October 16 – the club still has some work to do to ensure that future is a possibility.

Roster Rotations

Another game. Another slightly heavy rotation.

Head Coach, Bob Bradley, has stressed multiple times that the current schedule is ‘ridiculous,’ and I agree.

True to his word. Bradley sat out Carlos Vela for the first time this season, giving Steven Beitashour the captain’s armband on Friday. Jordan Harvey, Latif Blessing, Diego Rossi, and Christian Ramirez joined Pablo Sisniega on the bench.

The match saw Tyler Miller back in goal and Peter-Lee Vassell earn the start in Houston, upon return from international duty.

This move isn’t unusual, as for the match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the head coach opted to rest a few starters. And started Dejan Jakovic, Mohammed El-Munir, Adama Diomande (who appeared in the 18 for Kansas City), and Lee Nguyen – moving Tristian Blackmon back into the left wing.

In addition to losing Andre Horta earlier this season, LAFC announced on Monday that defender Niko Hämäläinen has returned to English side Queens Park Rangers following the conclusion of his six-month loan with LAFC.

The Battle of the Keepers

Pablo Sisniega has impressed us in the absence of Tyler Miller. The 24-year-old keeper stepped right in and created a 4-2-0 record in just one month.

Miller has racked up a 12-1-4 record with LAFC in 2019, thus far. As well, recording six clean sheets and allowing just 14 goals along the way. But with Miller going away to serve as the third-string keeper for the U.S. Men’s National Team for the duration of the Gold Cup – he returned to LAFC a bit shaky. However, I believe he can regain his rhythm in time.

Additionally, Philip Ejimadu has been doing well while on loan to USL side, FC Tucson – recording 31 saves, 15 clearances, and three clean sheets.

It seems we finally a strong keeper roster this season.

Carlos Vela leading the league

20 games. 19 goals.

Just give Carlos Vela the Golden Boot already!

The Mexican captain is leading the league in (19) goals, (12) assists, (99) shots, (41) shots on goal and is first in the Audi Player Index ratings with 874 points.

Last week, he was nominated as Player of the Week for the third time this season, along with Team of the Week honors.

Vela has played in every competitive match for LAFC this season, going the full 90 in all, except for two of the Black and Gold’s outings, being replaced with 11 minutes to play in April’s 4-0 victory over D.C. United – putting a target on the captain’s back.

During the Timbers match, the captain was seen limping multiple times – having left the pitch entirely at one point. And even though he sat out his first match in Houston, Vela was seen coaching his teammates from the sidelines during the second half.

Biggest concerns moving forward

Even though LAFC seems unstoppable at this point, I have still a few concerns for the team.

First. Let’s talk schedule.

Last week we saw LAFC do a quick turnaround within 48 hours and SB Nation’s Angels on Parade addressed this issue head on. And quite frankly, I agree with their stance. Given the club was eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, for the league to allow them to travel to Houston the very next day is ridiculous.

Fitness is still my biggest concern for the team.

Although LAFC has been pretty lucky from crowding up the injury list there are currently three players on the report: Alejandro Guido and Danilo Silva are questionable, while Javier Perez remains out with an ACL Tear.

Scheduling and roster rotation aside, I realize there is always room for error in a match but LAFC continues to make little mistakes from time-to-time.

From Sisniega’s communication error to Harvey’s mistake against Portland, LAFC has gotten lucky in both cases. But if not addressed properly, it can have a ripple effect. Fortunately, LAFC has been great in regaining form during the second half.

What’s next?

After enduring a packed month of international soccer action and a rigorous 48 turnaround, the MLS schedule gets slightly easier for the club until August.

This week, LAFC is back on the road to face the LA Galaxy who are just a striking hour away (two hours if you consider LA traffic) at the Dignity Health Sports Park on Friday, July 19.

Featured Image: LAFC

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LAFC dominates in 5-1 win over Sporting Kansas City

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

After a stunning road loss in Colorado, the Los Angeles Football Club bounced back in a big fashion with a 5-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park in a midweek matchup on Wednesday night.

After falling to Sporting KC twice last season and reclaiming revenge in a 2-1 season opener win in March – the match saw the return of Mark-Anthony Kaye following Canada’s elimination from the 2019 Gold Cup. And Bob Bradley wasted no time in putting him back in his usual midfield position.

Kaye almost earned the black-and-gold the early lead off a header from a Carlos Vela free kick in the ninth minute, but his attempt went straight to Tim Melia and eventually cleared out.

Stricken with an injured roster once again, Sporting KC dominated possession and kept Pablo Sisniega alert early in the match. However, most strikes from Gerso were deflected from Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour before reaching thenblack-and-gold’s net.

In the 28th minute, Christian Ramirez set the tone for the match after he drew blood first with a cheeky move off a set piece. The 28-year-old opted to send the ball underneath the wall, flying under the feet of Ilie Sanchez and Nicolas Hasler straight into the back of the net.

The trio (Gerso Fernandes, Felipe Gutierrez, and Krisztián Németh) were close to finding the response by developing a sequence of passes to get in the penalty box but had trouble connecting – ultimately sending the game into halftime trailing by one.

Moments after the restart, Diego Rossi doubles the score by sending a rocket past Melia into the right post.

Beware of the left foot. In the 63rd minute, Vela scored his 17th-MLS career goal so seamlessly with his signature left-footed curler.

Pablo Sisniega continues to be a standout with an incredible performance recording five saves. In true Miller-esque form, the 23-year-old keeper commanded the goal to thwart SKC’s efforts, including making a double-save within seconds of each other in the 71st minute.

With LAFC leading 3-0 – Sporting KC caught a break as Beitashour was called for a controversial handball in the 78th minute; after the ball ricocheted off his leg up to his hand on a sliding tackle – awarding the host a penalty kick. Daniel Salloi stepped up to convert. But Sisniega saved it from the Hungarian keeping a clean sheet.

In the 85th minute, Yohan Croizet pulls one back for Sporting KC in an attempt to spark hope back into the team. But it wouldn’t last long.

Just four minutes later, the Mexican captain gave Fito Zelaya the best birthday gift as he sends him a pass inside the penalty area to slide home, earning his first goal of the season.

Mohammad El-Munir finished a perfect night as he scored his first MLS-career goal during stoppage time – securing all three points for the black-and-gold.

Now sitting atop of the Western Conference standings with a nice cushion of 40 points – LAFC continues a congested schedule with a quick turnaround to host the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend.

Featured Image: Peaty Romano

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Tyler Miller, Walker Zimmerman talk Gold Cup journey, LAFC

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

In front of 17,307 energetic fans, the U.S. Men’s National Team won the group stage in a grueling 1-0 win over Panama; claiming all nine points ahead of the quarterfinals. And among the skillful roster are LAFC’s Tyler Miller and Walker Zimmerman.

Before the team heads to the east coast to face Curaçao in this Sunday’s matchup in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to catch up with LAFC’s favorite duo in Kansas City to discuss their experiences with the senior team this tournament thus far and reflect on the club’s strong start to the season.

Prior to the start of the USMNT’s Gold Cup run, Zimmerman – a longtime veteran of the senior squad – appeared as a halftime substitution during the friendly against Venezuela and has made back-to-back appearances for Gold Cup play.

Zimmerman: “It’s been great. I mean anytime you get called into the national team, it’s an honor. But even more so, I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to be content. Get some games, get some starts, get some good performances – to try to build that momentum. [..] So it’s been great to be a part of these first two games. And get two wins.”

Tyler Miller earned his first call-up to the senior team earlier this year for January’s senior camp. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the cut to the game day roster and returned to LAFC for preseason.

Six months later, the 26-year-old keeper would get another opportunity as he was called up for the USMNT’s friendlies. Even though he appeared on the bench for both matches, Miller ultimately made the final Gold Cup roster, “[It’s] a dream come true to be a part of this team.”

Following Wednesday’s win, Miller is the only player on the roster yet to have made an appearance.

While the duo has been on the road, back in Los Angeles – LAFC has continued to defend the Banc for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, advancing to the quarterfinals last week in a thrilling 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Miller and Zimmerman are excited about their club team: “I’ve had some late nights, where I watch some games of theirs. [I’m] looking forward to rooting them on from afar,” Zimmerman expressed.

Zimmerman went on to explain LAFC’s overall group mentality is greatly improved compared to last season:

“It’s a groundwork that we’ve put in place since the beginning of last year with how we want to be, our mentality. That’s one of the biggest differences from last year to this year, is the mentality of the whole group. To realize we’re a special group of players. We have a great locker room. And a very talented team.”

Miller added, “It’s always a challenge when you’re called into international duty for the guys to step up that haven’t really been getting a lot of minutes. I think the team has done well in the first two open cup games and that’s going to help propel them into the next three MLS games where we might have some guys still missing. I think this is a huge opportunity for guys to really get some valuable minutes because you never know. I mean the MLS season is very long and injuries happen. And everyone has to be ready.”

One of those players who has been earning some “valuable minutes” is Pablo Sisneiga, who has stepped up in Miller’s absence. And Tyler was thrilled for the young Mexican keeper:

“Pablo has done great. I’ve always got confidence in Pablo. I think he’s really performed well and has made some key saves for our team, especially with the RSL game. This last game we had too. I’m really happy for him because I know how hard he works. He’s a good kid and I’m glad to see him doing well.”

As the pair gear up to head to the east coast with the USMNT – the black-and-gold will kick off a packed schedule in Colorado on Friday.

Featured Image: Peaty Romano

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San Sisniega: LAFC advances to U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals in 3-1 Win over San Jose Earthquakes

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club returns to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals after knocking out the San Jose Earthquakes in a 3-1 victory at the Banc of California stadium on Thursday night.

Why change what’s not broken? Head Coach Bob Bradley fielded the same lineup as last week with only one change – that being Adama Diomande and Christian Ramirez switching places in the starting XI. But it was a move that would greatly benefit the team during the second half.

With Tyler Miller away on international duty, Pablo Sisniega made eight saves, including a key stop on a close-range shot in the 63rd minute to keep San Jose out. The keeper earned his second-straight start and put his Olympian lineage on full display with another stellar performance for his first appearance at the Banc.

The match kicked off to a rocky start for the black-and-gold as the Quakes outran Jordan Harvey to break through the defense and find a solo Vako who beat Danilo Silva for the early lead for the visitors in the 7th minute.

LAFC continued to struggle to break down the Quakes giving Cristian Espinoza the chance to run the ball down clear to the opposite end of the field to find Chris Wondolowski at the box – Wondo sent the strike off the cross into the net. But the goal was ruled offside.

Trailing by one, the black-and-gold rushed to find the equalizer. Lee Nguyen played the ball ahead to Diego Rossi, who slipped in behind Andrew Tarbell for a cheeky finish – leveling the match in the 35th minute.

LAFC was quick to knock on San Jose’s door after the restart keeping Tarbell alert as they searched for the third goal of the night. From Latif Blessing‘s chance hitting the crossbar to Vela’s shot going wide – the club produced several chances but still had trouble converting.

Just as the ref put Diomande’s number on the board to sub him out for Ramirez, the striker took Rossi’s through ball, got past Tarbell and doubled the score with a perfect strike on an open net in the 60th minute.

The Mexican captain tried to connect with Ramirez just inside the penalty area. But the ball deflected off San Jose’s player to miss the forward by inches.

San Jose proved they are a different team this year as the match intensified with Espinoza and Wondolowski attacking the goal. However, Sisniega, the Mexico City native, came up huge to deny the Quakes twice.

Rossi sent in a screamer in the 84th minute but it deflected just off the inside of the crossbar. But within seconds, LAFC would find themselves back on San Jose’s doorstep after a Marcos Lopez free-kick went back to the black-and-gold.

Eduard Atuesta worked the ball in the midfield and passed it to Tristian Blackmon through traffic. Blackmon ran it down the center connecting with Vela, who cut around San Jose’s defense and slid it home past Tarbell in the 85th minute; securing the 3-1 victory for the black-and-gold.

The club will host the Portland Timbers in the next round on July 10. But first. LAFC returns to MLS action in a two-game road trip next week as they travel to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to face the Colorado Rapids. And then east to face Sporting Kansas City five days later.

Featured Image: LAFC

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