Tag Archives: Araceli Villanueva

MLS Cup Final: Staff Picks

Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

We are less than a week away from the MLS Cup Final between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC. Both teams are going for their second league championship, with the Sounders having won in 2016 and Toronto in 2017. Following a new format of single elimination playoffs, the Cup final will be played Sunday, November 10th at CenturyLink Field.

Several members of the MLSFemale staff offered their thoughts on who will lift the trophy at the end of the night. The results are… slightly skewed.


Seattle Sounders

Ashley, Official Sounders Reporter: Because Seattle invented MLS Cup…The team overcame so many injuries this season and not to mention players leaving and retiring. They busted their butts to get to this final and this city deserves to host a championship.

Keira, Official NYCFC Reporter: Sounders because they are a huge reason we have a cool soccer culture in the US. Great teams find ways to win the big games and that’s what Seattle does. Dig deep and find ways to win.

Bridget, Official MNUFC Reporter: I have to go with the Sounders. They have multiple players who peak in high pressure matches and yet nothing about their game plan leans on just these players. It’s a slightly different edge than Toronto.

Eve, Official Montreal Impact Reporter:  If I put my Toronto bias aside, I would say I feel like Seattle have the edge because they have finally been a consistently strong unit over the whole of the season, unlike in their two previous Cup runs.

Aya, Atlanta United Video Correspondent: Seattle because Toronto beat us.

Dayna, Co-founder of MLSFemale: Totally unbiased opinion — I think Seattle will win it. Home field advantage is real in Seattle.

Abigail, Seattle Contributor and USWNT Correspondent: Seattle of course! This team knows how to show up in big moments. Lodiero, Ruidiaz, and Frei are all big game players. This team is built for playoffs especially at home

Sylvana, Official NY Red Bulls Reporter and MLSFemale Social Media Manager: Definitely Seattle. They are a cohesive unit and have been able to execute a game plan. And they were able to put aside the mighty LAFC! They definitely seem to have the advantage going in.

Sarah, Official D.C. United Reporter and MLSFemale Editor-in-Chief: Seattle capitalizes on home field advantage to win the Cup and wow the home crowd, but Nick DeLeon scores some absolute stunners that turn the match into a nail biter.

Toronto FC

Liz, Co-founder of MLSFemale: I’m Canadian and BMO Field was the first MLS match I ever attended which helped put me on the path to co-creating MLSFemale.

Jess, Official Rapids Reporter: This isn’t a final I’m looking forward to because it’s very much more of the same. I would have loved to have seen an LAFC/Atlanta matchup instead. Normally I go with the conference my team plays in, but this time I see Toronto as the lesser of two evils.

Araceli, Official LAFC and Sporting KC Reporter: Toronto FC. It’s a difficult choice since both teams have a long history with each other in the MLS Cup Final. I think Stefan Frei and Quentin Westberg are strong keepers and could keep both sides in the game well into extra time. But I’m rooting for The Reds mostly because Seattle knocked out LAFC.

Kickoff is set for 3pm EST on ABC. MLSFemale will live-tweet the final. Follow along @MLSFemale.

Featured image: MLS Soccer

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LAFC Concludes 2019 Season At Home In 3-1 Loss

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club’s record-setting season came to an end Tuesday night in a 3-1 home loss to the Seattle Sounders marking the club’s first loss to Seattle. 

In a high-energy, physical match, Eduard Atuesta gave the Black & Gold the early lead in the 17th minute with a rocket shot off a free kick.

But Seattle’s physicality, energy, and persistence would soon overpower the Supporters’ Shield winners – as they struck back in the 22nd minute. Raul Ruidiaz rounded Eddie Segura and, beating Tyler, ripped a shot inside the near post for the equalizer.

Four minutes later, an unmarked Nicolas Lodeiro took the lead when he received the ball just outside the top of the box and took his time slotting home a grounded shot inside the right post.

Latif Blessing went down with a groin injury just before halftime, forcing LAFC to make a early substitution – Mark-Anthony Kaye made his return. 

In the 53rd minute, still down a goal, Adama Diomande who helped the club advance to the next round replaced Brian Rodriguez.

Much like Lodeiro’s goal in the first half, Ruidiaz found himself unmarked at the top of the box in the 64th minute. But this time, it was Lodeiro who fed him the ball across the middle and before Segura could close the distance, Ruidiaz ripped a shot inside the left post to double Seattle’s lead, 3-1.

LAFC continued to push back against their physical opponent to find the breakthrough. However, they had trouble with converting their chances.

The club would get another opportunity to pull one back in the 54th minute when Diego Rossi picked out Diomande inside the box with a cross but could not connect with the forward. Blackmon got on the rebound to see his shot miss wide of the target.

Ruidiaz’s second goal would become the game winner eliminating LAFC from seeing the MLS Cup Final.

It’s not how we envisioned the season to end. But this club has several accomplishments to be proud of:

  • 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners
  • Carlos Vela won the Golden Boot
  • Head Coach Bob Bradley named MLS Coach of the Year

See you next season!

Featured Image:  Daisy Jimenez

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LAFC looks to silence Seattle in Tuesday’s showdown

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.

When: Tuesday, October 29th, 7:00 p.m. PT.

How to watch: ESPN, ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980


After defeating the LA Galaxy for the first time last week to advance to the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Football Club will have the chance to secure a spot in the 2019 MLS Cup in Tuesday’s night showdown against the Seattle Sounders.

LAFC is three wins and one draw in the four-game series against the Pacific Northwest opponents. The draw is at Century Link field and three victories at home in the Banc.

Photo image courtesy of the MLS’ app

The odds seem to be in LAFC’s favor. However, Seattle still proves to be a dangerous threat entering their 11th consecutive MLS playoffs finishing second in the west. And are coming off of two-straight wins against Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.

MLS Comeback player Jordan Morris scored a hat trick on October 19 against FC Dallas. Although he did not score any goals in last weekend’s showdown against Real Salt Lake – Morris could be a pain for the Black & Gold.

Seattle may have playoffs experience but so do we.

Is Tyler Miller a concern?

Miller will likely continue to be the starting keeper for the remainder of the playoffs. Last Thursday, the young keeper produced three saves with a solid first-half performance. However, slight mistakes gave the Galaxy a chance to level the match and cut the deficit.

“I had a good two and half years at Seattle with two MLS Cup runs. Overall, it was a really good experience for me and now being here in the Western Conference Finals – it’s an exciting time,” Miller discussed about his former club during a press conference over the weekend.

Head Coach Bob Bradley had similar sentiments in giving Seattle credit for being “more solid in every way” this season and their past two playoffs competitions. And is aware the Black & Gold will need to be more prepared.

Dio is back!

The forward returned to the roster after a brief stint in the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program to bag a pair of goals late and the game-winner in the second half.

Starting XI predictions:

LAFC: Tyler Miller; Steven Beitashour, Tristan Blackmon, Eddie Segura, Jordan Harvey; Adama Diomande, Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing; Brian Rodriguez, Carlos Vela (C), Diego Rossi

Seattle Sounders: Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Román Torres, Kim Kee-hee, Brad Smith; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan, Joevin Jones, Nicolás Lodeiro (C), Jordan Morris; Raúl Ruidíaz

Featured Image:  @LAFC

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LAFC Advances to the Western Conference Finals in 5-3 Thriller

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club had the last laugh in an eight-goal thriller as they defeated the LA Galaxy, stamping their ticket to their first-ever Western Conference Final.

Brian Rodriguez moved the ball down the pitch, and rounded a Galaxy defender to send in the shot after a slow start from the home side. But as the script goes, the ball flew over the crossbar.

Carlos Vela scored the two opening goals in the 16th and 40th minutes to solidify LAFC’s lead. Cristian Pavon immediately answered the Golden Boot winner to put the visitors on the board and cut celebrations short before the half.

Dominating with 60.8% possession, the Galaxy quickly forced a spry Tyler Miller to save Giancarlo González’s header from the centre of the box shortly after the restart whistle. The 26-year-old keeper came up huge again in the 53rd minute to retrieve a loose ball after both sides scrambled inside the box to get a touch.

Zlatan leveled the match 2-2 in the 55th minute after the ball slipped through Miller’s legs into the net.

Bradley made a double substitution in the 59th minute that saw Adama Diomande and Walker Zimmerman enter the match in place of Rodriguez and Steven Beitashour. The pair made an immediate impact.

Just when it looked like history would repeat itself, Diego Rossi and Diomande scored back-to-back goals within a two-minute span to revive the Black & Gold’s two-goal lead just ten minutes after the Swede’s equalizing breakthrough.

Rolf Feltscher headed in the finisher off Romain Alessandrini’s free-kick to pull one back for the visitors in the 77th minute.

Three minutes later, Diomande dribbled the ball upfield, completely dismantling the Galaxy’s backline to score his second goal of the night and the club’s game winner, making it 5-3.

The final play fell to the Galaxy who continued knocking on LAFC’s door to keep their playoff hopes alive. Zlatan broke through four minutes into stoppage time to score a goal. But the ref disallowed it – sending the host to the Western Conference Finals.

The Black & Gold will face the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday, October 29 at the Banc of California Stadium. Kickoff is at 7p PST.

Featured Image:  LAFC

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El Trafico: Tristan Blackmon, “It’s a great rivalry for the city.”

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

From spending three loan spells with Phoenix Rising FC to raising the Supporters’ Shield, there is no slowing down for LAFC’s right back Tristan Blackmon.

The Las Vegas native became interested in the game at an early age in part to his mother having played herself in high school and looking up to legends like Ronaldinho, “soccer came second nature” to him growing up.

“[It] was an interesting lifestyle in terms of soccer in Vegas growing up. Playing club there weren’t many teams out there so I found myself venturing to tournaments in California or other states nearby to get good competitive games in.”

Like most, the LA Galaxy was his first MLS experience. Now on the opposite side of the rivalry – Tristan is grateful to be a part of history.

“It’s a great rivalry for the city. I think there’s going to be a lot of historic moments between these two teams in the future. This is going to be a long live rivalry for soccer in America. It’s awesome to be a part of the birth of that.”

Drafted third overall in 2018 MLS SuperDraft on January 19, 2018; signing on February 22 – the 23-year-old is living the player’s dream. Crediting the club’s “family lifestyle” to helping him cope with the growing pressures and successfulness of another season.

“I think coming in – the club welcomed me with open arms which made it very easy for me to transition into this type of lifestyle. All of us are a huge family and every day we are reminded of that coming into the facility. Recognizing that I’m part of something special definitely makes being here a lot easier.”

During his rookie year, Blackmon made his professional debut in a 1-0 win over Seattle on March 4 and earned his first MLS start in a 1-1 draw vs. DC United on May 26. Including, appearing in ten regular season MLS matches, five starts, for 491 minutes played.

While on loan to USL’s side Phoenix Rising FC, he posted eight starts across all competitions including the 2018 USL Cup final. Tristan returned to Phoenix for his third loan spell this season – making his first appearance on April 6 in a 0-0 draw over Fresno FC before returning to LA for the remainder of the season.

“I think the experience of going on loan definitely gave me confidence and getting games in. Just kind of feeling myself out again because I wasn’t playing too much last year here,” Tristan continues. “I’ve been playing a decent amount of games this year. And I feel like the team has helped me pushed to be a become a better player – which excites me.”

Tristan kicked off his second year with the Black & Gold on May 24 in the team’s 4-2 victory over Montreal Impact – posting his first career goal and assist on a memorable night. Blackmon has logged in one goal, four assists, 1377 minutes going into the postseason.

The young defender is fortunate to have veteran teammates like Carlos Vela and Walker Zimmerman to help guide him.

“I think not only on the field but off the field, these guys have really shown a humble side. [It’s] more like a brotherhood. [..] The veterans have helped me along the way in my path and my journey. And hopefully, I can shed that light on some young players in the future the same way they have on me.”

With another thrilling edition of El Trafico looming – Tristan and co. are ready. LAFC has been unsuccessful at subduing its rival in the five-game series. However, Blackmon is optimistic they will finally get the win with the team’s mentality they’ve had all year.

“We want to smash records and make history this year. In doing that we’re going to need to take down [LA Galaxy] – I feel like it was going to end up this way regardless. There’s always going to be an opponent in your way when you’re pushing to get trophies and results. At the end of the day, we want to get a win and we want to set the tone for the rest of the playoffs. But first, we have to make sure we handle business on Thursday night and I think everybody is up for the challenge.”

With a bye week and home-field advantage in hand, LAFC will face the LA Galaxy for a chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals at home on Thursday, October 24. Kickoff is at 7:30p PST.

Featured Image:  @LAFC

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Weekly Roundup: El Trafico, Dio Returns, Playoff Rally

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Playoffs Week is here!

El Trafico is coming back to the Banc for the Western Conference Semifinals.

Minnesota United fell to the LA Galaxy last night in a 2-1 loss at Allianz Stadium – advancing the Galaxy to the semifinals.

LAFC will host the much anticipated matchup on Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 PST.

Dio returns!

Major League Soccer reinstated Adama Diomande this past week. And he is eligible for selection for Thursday’s intense matchup.

Dio voluntarily entered MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program on September 20 and was assessed by SABH program doctors.

He has been cleared to resume all team activities, including competition. Dio was even seen training with the team last weekend during a special event for the fans.

Roster Injury Updates

  • Six minutes into Canada’s Concacaf Nations League match last Tuesday, Mark-Anthony Kaye exited with an apparent leg injury. Although it has not been determined what type of injury the midfielder has acquired – Kaye is on a day-to-day basis as he continues to receive treatment.
  • Walker Zimmerman suffered a concussion after colliding with Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara in LAFC’s 3-1 win over the Rapids on Decision Day. The injury kept the defender out of international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team. According to Vince La Rosa, Zimmerman returned to full training last Wednesday and needs to get in as “many training sessions as possible to regain his fitness level” ahead of the playoffs.

The hype surrounding the playoffs is real!

LAFC players have been making numerous appearances around town all week in celebration of the upcoming playoffs.

Fans also attended a playoffs rally last night at the Banc to show their support for the Black & Gold.

Fans had the opportunity to enjoy live music, games, drink and food specials, and take photos with the Supporters’ Shield. They were also able to write a message for the players on the special “#ForLosAngeles” wall.

LAFC goes virtual

The club announced its official entry into eMLS, Major League Soccer’s competitive gaming league competing in the EA SPORTS™ FIFA franchise on October 17.

LAFC will host an “online selection qualifying tournament” in search of the club’s first-ever esports player to represent the club in eMLS competitions.

There will be three qualifying round competitions that will take place on October 26, November 1, and November 3 – top performers in the first three rounds will square off in the final on Wednesday, November 6.

Gold Links

Featured Image:  LAFC

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Making History: LAFC and Carlos Vela Cap Off the Regular Season On A High Note

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club closed the regular season in a 3-1 historic win over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday afternoon at Banc of California Stadium.

With the win the Black & Gold tied the all-time single-season goals record (85) and broke the all-time single-season points record (72). Plus, they finished the season with the best goal differential in league history (+48) and a 21-4-9 record.

The club controlled most of the first half with their efforts paying off as Carlos Vela scored in the 28th minute past an outstretched Tim Howard to give LAFC the lead and made history as he surpassing Josef Martinez’s record for the most goals in one season with a record-best of 34 goals.

Three minutes later, Tristian Blackmon heads in the ball to the Golden Boot winner inside the box. Vela score a stunning bicycle kick, his quick-fire brace doubling the team’s lead.

In the 40th minute, Kei Kamara’s header bounced off the post and into the back of the net putting the Rapids on the scoresheet – sending the sides into the half 2-1.

Eleven minutes after the restart, Vela capped off a historic season by scoring the hat-trick after a tapping in a goal off another cross by Blackmon.

Walker Zimmerman and Kamara clashed heads in the 70th minute. The Rapids player continued on but Walker was helped off the field after hitting the pitch face first. Steven Beitashour subbed in for the defender with twenty minutes left.

As a result, Zimmerman will not report to the United States Men’s National Team camp later this month as reported by LA Time’s Kevin Baxter:

The Black & Gold pushed forward to secure their historic win entering the playoffs on a high note.

Last week, LAFC clinched the 2019 Supporters’ Shield, securing the top spot in the Western Conference and a first-round bye in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Black & Gold will play the winner of Minnesota United and the Galaxy for the Western Conference Semifinal. Date and time will be announced at a later date.

Featured Image:  Imad Bolotok

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Decision Day: Can the Timbers clinch a playoff spot at home?

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Following a chippy 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City this past Sunday night, the Portland Timbers are taking the point and the fight for a playoffs spot back home to Providence Park.

In a night full of trading cards and goals – Sebastian Blanco notched the opening goal in the 29th minute. However, Krisztián Nemeth cut the celebrations after finding the equalizer just moments later.

Then chaos ensued.

A brief altercation broke out in the 35th minute after Felipe Gutierrez and Brian Rodriguez collided on the sidelines that ultimately led to both Rodriguez and Roger Espinoza receiving red cards and were ejected from the match.

Head Coach Giovanni Savarese disagreed with the decision telling media during the postmatch conference:

“To be quite honest, I don’t think anybody should [have been] thrown out, from what I saw,” said Savarese. “From what I saw it got heated, but no, I think a lot of yellow card situations there. So I have to be honest that I haven’t seen it yet, I just heard that it wasn’t as much as they made it seem like.”

Steve Clark who rose to the occasion during the midseason after starter Jeff Attinella suffered a season-ending injury, made three saves to keep the match level.

Savarese said of Clark’s performance: “He’s done fairly well. We said from the beginning he is an important player. [And] that’s why we put him in. We felt very content to have two goalkeepers like Jeff [Attinella] and [Steve] Clark – that we knew what they’re going to give us. And we’re very content [he would] step up to help us out. I think he made some good saves.”

Sporting KC immediately regained the lead in the 46th minute after Daniel Salloi hit home the rebound scoring his first goal of the season.

In the 85th minute, a penalty was awarded to the Timbers after Ilie Sanchez tackles Jeremy Ebobisse in the penalty area. Darien Asprilla converts the goal leveling the match and giving the Timbers a hard-fought point on the road.

Although everything went their way score-wise across the league with a loss from both FC Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes, it all comes down to Decision Day.

But it comes with an added challenge.

After Savarese stated the club would be appealing Fernandez’s suspension; the club has since rescinded the appeal Wednesday based on new evidence – leaving them without their star forward for the big matchup. In addition to Diego Valeri still questionable due to tightness in his calf he acquired in Kansas City.

But maybe luck will be on Portland’s side as the Earthquakes are currently on a five-game losing streak and are a point below the line. As well, losing defender Tommy Thompson to a red card during their previous match against the Seattle Sounders.

The Timbers will look to clinch a playoffs spot at home when they face the Earthquakes on Sunday, October 6.

“It’s a must win. That’s all it is,” said Zarek Valentin.

Featured image: @TimbersFC

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Carlos Vela: Beware of the Left Foot

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Carlos Vela continues to stun teams on a historic week with his signature left-foot curler following this past Sunday’s draw in Minnesota.

Last weekend, Vela gave the Black & Gold another opening goal for the second straight match. The goal was Vela’s 31st of the season, tying him with Josef Martinez for most in a season in MLS history.

Although the captain came dangerously close to breaking the record on the same night – he left the big moment for Decision Day.

The star striker has only missed three games this entire season. And his dedication to the team is upstanding. For example, he was seen on the sideline coaching his teammates after being taken out due to an injury. In the postmatch interview after their clash with Minnesota United – Vela continued to credit his team in aiding his success:

For the fifth time in 2019, Vela appeared on Team of the Week, and is currently leading the league in three categories: (31) goals, (154) shots, and, (67) shots on goal and ranks second in the Audi Player Index Ratings. In addition to being voted the MLS Player of the Month for March of the 2019 MLS season.

Aside from breaking league and personal records, the former Real Sociedad player is having a great year. He was named to the 2019 MLS All-Star roster and given the captain’s armband for the second year in a row this summer.

LAFC has been on yet another historic run this season – winning the 2019 Supporters’ Shield to secure the Western Conference; giving the Black & Gold home-field advantage throughout playoffs and are a win away from setting the new record for most points in a single season.

The 30-year-old has been part of the “DP Trio” with Diego Valeri and Brian Rodriguez. Sunday marked their third-straight match together. And the results looked promising – even though Rodriguez seemed to have trouble falling into place with the dynamic duo.

Earlier this season, I asked: Is he the next rising King of MLS?

Of course, it is still early to declare Vela the new MVP. But he and his left-foot have been consistently dominating the league for the past eight months.

LAFC will wrap up the regular season at home as they host the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, October 6.

Featured Image:  LAFC

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Best in the West: LAFC clinches 2019 Supporters’ Shield

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club clinched the 2019 Supporters’ Shield, making history as the team with the best record of the 2019 MLS season, with a 3-1 victory against the Houston Dynamo at the Banc.

Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Eduard Atuesta delivered all three goals to secure the team’s first trophy; ensuring New York City FC, who kept their hopes alive in a win against Atlanta United earlier, cannot surpass the club by the end of the regular season.

Head Coach Bob Bradley fielded his usual lineup with a few changes that saw Tristian Blackmon and Mohamed El-Munir starting in place of Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey – the changes made a huge improvement in LAFC’s defense. There was also another strong showing of the DP trio (Vela, Rossi, Brian Rodriguez).

Dominating the game with 70.4% possession and having created two solid chances in the opening twelve minutes, the Black & Gold set the tone of the match.

In the 23rd minute, Rodriguez took a touch off a cross from Blackmon and was taken down near the penalty spot; awarding a penalty to the home side.

The captain converted the penalty to give LAFC the lead. After scoring his 30th goal – Vela was on the cusp of tying the all-time season record. Although he did not achieve this last night, I think a nice piece of silverware made up the difference.

Houston immediately leveled the match after forcing an own goal by Tyler Miller just five minutes later. The ball slipped through traffic to El-Munir who slid to block it, but the ball then deflected off Miller and back into the net.

The drama continued as the club earned a chance to double the lead in the 31st minute after Houston’s Aijaz Struna clipped Lee Nguyen from behind near the box. Referee Ramy Touchan almost awarded a second penalty but the decision was changed to a free kick after a quick VAR review.

Vela’s left footed shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced out; LAFC and the Dynamo fought for the live ball with it ultimately falling to Segura. Unfortunately, his rebound missed just wide of the goal.

The Black & Gold continued to push forward, creating more scoring opportunities. Rodriguez received the final play before the whistle. But his missed attempt lead both sides into the half in a 1-1 stalemate.

LAFC used it’s first substitution of the night shortly after the restart as Mark-Anthony Kaye entered for a visibly disappointed Rodriguez who had only seen 57 minutes of playing time.

Rossi put the team back ahead in the 70th minute after the ball ricocheted off the crossbar and the young forward was there to head it in putting the score up 2-1.

Atuesta’s curler in the 83rd minute was the icing on the cake – securing all three points and the club’s first trophy, while simultaneously eliminating the Dynamo from playoff contention.

With two games left in the regular season, the road to the MLS Cup becomes clearer for the Black & Gold, as they will now have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

LAFC will look to continue their good fortune when they travel to Allianz Field on Sunday, September 29 to face Minnesota United.

Until then, it’s time to celebrate!

Featured Image: Dejan Jakovic

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