Tag Archives: Araceli Villanueva

LAFC Weekly Roundup: Kaye Returns, Eddie Segura joins LAFC, Gold Links

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Los Angeles Football Club had a remarkable inaugural season and after setting the bar – the black-and-gold looks ahead to the 2019 season.

Kaye Returns

Mark-Anthony Kaye received a late-birthday gift from the club of a three-year contract extension through 2021 with a club option in 2022.

The 24-year-old Canadian International started in 20 regular season matches, recording two goals and five assists before acquiring a season-ending injury on July 26.

Kaye has a made a full recovery since then and is expected to return to training in 2019.

New Player Signing

Just days before officially announcing their offseason moves, LAFC signed Colombian defender Eddie Segura from Atletico Huila on a six-month loan beginning in January, with a purchase option.

‚ÄúAt such a young age, Eddie has accumulated a wealth of experience in Colombia, and we believe he has the requisite potential and qualities to make an immediate impact to our backline next season.‚ÄĚ said general manager and EVP of soccer operations John Thorrington in a team statement. ‚ÄúEddie is a strong, dynamic defender who fits well with how we play, and, similar to our other players, will continue his progress as a player here in Los Angeles.‚ÄĚ

The 21-year-old center back is set to occupy an international spot and will fill a much-needed role, should Walker Zimmerman and Dejan Jakovińᬆleave LAFC. But even if they remain on the roster, two CBs could always use reinforcements.

The club’s loan agreement for¬†Danilo Silva has expired. As a result, he will return to¬†Internacional of Brazil after LAFC did not exercise their purchase options.

Segura marks the black-and-gold’s first offseason signing ahead of the preseason camp in January.

Roster Moves

Offseason moves are fast approaching. The good news is it seems we’re keeping our main core of guys. The bad news is we have to say goodbye to a few good players.

The club declined contract options on goalkeepers Charlie Lyon and Quillan Roberts, midfielders Nico Czornomaz, Calum Mallace and James Murphy, and forwards Steeve Saint-Duc and Marco¬†Ure√Īa.

Additionally, defenders Jordan Harvey, Dejan Jakovińá, and Walker Zimmerman, and midfielder Benny Feilhaber will be out of contract on December 31.

Jakovińá, Mallace, and Roberts are eligible to participate in the MLS Re-Entry Draft on December 15.

Zimmerman received a Bona Fide Offer and will not be eligible for the Re-Entry Draft. However, rumors have been flooding around Zimmerman since October that he could potentially be leaving LAFC for overseas.

*Click here to view the full list of roster moves

Gold Links: 

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Sporting KC claims 0-0 draw in Leg One of the Western Conference Final

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Sporting KC Contributor

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City earns a scoreless draw against Portland Timbers for leg one of the Western Conference Finals at Providence Park on Sunday night. Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and the rest of the top-seeded team shutout Portland in front of a sold-out crowd.

Despite ending in a draw, this match had no shortage of drama. Tim Melia was immediately called into action just a few seconds after the whistle blew – arguably setting the tone of the game. Melia would go on to record six saves, a clean sheet, and a first postseason shutout. Including, the final save that would decide the faith of the game.

Is the curse of the post finally broken? Maybe. In the sixth minute, Timber’s defender¬†Jorge Villafana sends a low ball towards the ball only to see his effort bounce off the post that helped Portland win the knock round match in 2015.

Portland was forced to make an early sub in the 18th minute when¬†Bill Tuilmoa replaced Larrys Mabiala. However, the early substitution did not slow Portland down as they continued to press Sporting KC’s defense.¬†Fortunately, with the fast reactions from Melia, Zusi, and Besler, they were able to take Sporting KC into the half scoreless under pressure.

Sporting KC appeared to have adjusted from a choppy first half when Johnny Russell gets a great first touch after the restart. However, he sees his chance fly over the bar. Russell again would create more opportunities throughout the second half but fail to capitalize on his chances.

Russell was not the only one who almost opened the scoring. Ten minutes after Russell’s first attempt,¬†Seth Sinovic¬†struck in a 20-yard volley going straight into Jeff Attinella‘s arms – marking his first save of the night.

Portland came close to taking the lead in the 70th minute after¬†David Guzman was able to get past Melia after Liam Ridgewell’s header came off the post, following a scramble in the box. However, Guzman’s goal was called offsides, giving Sporting KC a sign of relief. Still scoreless with less than 20 minutes of regular time, both sides pursued.

Manager Peter Vermes made an out-of-character decision to sub in Yohan Croizet for Russell in the last minute of stoppage time. Croizet’s addition did not make much of a difference as they ended the first leg in a scoreless draw.

Sporting KC will now host the Portland Timbers for leg two of the Western Conference Final on Thursday, November 29.

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Sporting Kansas City advances to Western Conference Finals in Icy Battle

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Sporting KC Contributor

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

From the moment the whistle blew, this icy match didn’t disappoint when it came to drama.

Following a 1-1 draw on the road, Sporting Kansas City returns home to stamp their ticket to the Western Conference Finals in a 4-2 (5-3 on aggregate) win over Real Salt Lake at Children’s Mercy Park.

Felipe Gutierrez arguably had the best game of his career having recorded two assists Рbecoming the first player in Sporting KC postseason history to record two assists in the first half. As well, recording a total of three assists in the 2018 playoffs campaign, tied for a club postseason record.

Sporting KC was up 2-0 by the 20th minute after two brilliant goals by Diego Rubio and Daniel Salloi. However, things started to slow as the home side’s defense became noticeable lazy – giving RSL an opportunity to pull one back shortly after the restart.

The tide would shift again in the 67th minute after RSL defender Nedum Onuoha received a caution for a tackle on Gutierrez – Referee Jose Carlos Rivero awarded Sporting KC a penalty, which Ilie Sanchez successfully converted with a shot down the middle, putting SKC back ahead 3-1.

Moments later, RSL answered the penalty when Damir Kreilach sends a clear header off of a corner shot from Joao Plata past Tim Melia pulling one back for RSL 3-2.

The remainder of the match saw RSL putting all bodies forward continuously challenging Melia and the backline – in an attempt to level the match. Fortunately, Sporting KC was able to dismiss all opportunities the visitors created in front of a sold-out crowd.

Every heart in the stadium filled with anxiety when the crowd witnessed the ball falling to Nick Besler, the younger brother of Sporting KC captain Matt Besler, off a corner kick in the 83rd minute but his chance fizzled past the goal, landing in the side netting.¬†Seconds later, nerves rattled again, when¬†Jefferson¬†Savoring¬†won possession on a loose ball in the penalty area and sent a side-footer in close range just wide of Melia’s right-hand post.

After a brutal seven minutes of stoppage time, Salloi slammed home the silencer in the 96th minute securing the home side’s spot in the Western Conference Final. As well, handing the team their first playoff win since 2013.

Sporting KC will have a two-week break period to regroup before traveling to Portland for leg 1 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, November 25.

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Sporting KC faces Real Salt Lake for Western Conference Semifinals

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Sporting KC Contributor

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City will kick off their playoffs run Sunday when the club visits Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Sporting KC is currently on a three-game winning streak after earning a first-round bye in a dramatic win over the Los Angeles Football Club this past Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park.

Without an opponent in mind, Sporting KC approached training this past week with similar compounds as they have during the season:

We’ve played every opponent, so we know the general sense. There won’t be many surprises when we see them again. Same preparations. Same week. Same attitudes.¬†Just a little bit harder now because its the playoffs,” said Goalkeeper Eric Dick.

Forward Khiry Shelton added, “It’s been the same. The same approach we’ve taken every week. We can’t focus too much on our opponent – whoever it may be. We need to focus on ourselves and the task at hand. [Then] come out and play our game and get a result.”

On Thursday evening, it looked as if Sporting KC was set to travel to Portland following the Timber’s 2-1 victory over FC Dallas. But in a weird turn of events, the first team will be visiting Salt Lake City instead – after RSL stunned the league with a 3-2 victory over LAFC at Banc of California Stadium.

Sporting KC has a long history with Real Salt Lake dating back to 2013 when the two sides met for the 2013 MLS Cup – in which Sporting KC hosted and won in a 10-round penalty shootout. This weekend will mark the fourth and fifth times this season the clubs will meet.

The club’s current record with RSL for the 2018 season is 1-1-1 with Children’s Mercy Park seeing the win and the tie.¬†Including, a 1-6-5 record against RSL in the regular season since 2014, as well a 0-5-2 mark at Rio Tinto Stadium. So it’s not surprising that RSL would not be a favorable team for Sporting KC to face.¬†But not all hope is lost.¬†Sporting KC eliminated RSL from the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 2-0 fourth-round win on June 6.

Aside from Jimmy Medranda and Cristian Lobato season-ending knee injuries, the team is expected to be at full strength Рwith the exception of Seth Sinovic who will serve his one-game suspension for the first leg but will be available for selection for the second leg. With their left back in Kansas City, Manager Peter Vermes has recalled Jaylin Lindsey from the U-20 US National Team and their CONCACAF Championship campaign.

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Sporting KC and LAFC battle for top spot in the West

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official Reporter: LAFC & SKC

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Decision Day is almost upon us.

Sporting Kansas City hosts the Los Angeles Football Club for the first time on Sunday, October 28 in the battle for the top spot in the Western Conference. The regular season finale will also welcome home former players Benny Feilhaber and Latif Blessing.

The last time these two clubs met was on August 11, when Sporting KC delivered LAFC their first and only home loss of the regular season in a 2-0 victory at the Banc of California stadium.

It is important to note that the black-and-gold were missing several key players due to coming off a two-game streak – with their last match being in Houston, for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals, three days prior to meeting Sporting KC. Andre Horta, Danilo Silva, and Christian Ramirez filled these empty roles while also having earned their first MLS career starts.

The black-and-gold are expected to be at full strength for Sunday’s contest with Tyler Miller back in goal and¬†Steven Beitashour, Walker Zimmerman¬†and Adama Diomande returning to the pitch.

Bob Bradley‘s team will be coming off the momentum they gained from their final regular season match at home where they earned a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps and made history as the first club to reach 57 points in their inaugural season.

Sporting KC currently holds first place in the Western Conference with LAFC just two points behind – tied with FC Dallas. A win would secure the top spot for the black-and-gold, however, if the match ends in a draw or loss they could potentially remain in second place. Of course, we would need to take into account the fact FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders would both need to lose in order for this to happen. Given their current records – that’s a tall order for any team.

The top two seeds will earn knockout round byes, while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host a single-elimination knockout round match on either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 against the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.

LAFC’s Digital Manager Vince La Rosa lists out all the possible scenarios¬†for the black-and-gold. But it’s simple. A win and we’re in.

On the other side, similar to their visitors, Sporting KC will look to stay atop the standings and a first-round bye. The home side could still finish anywhere from first to fourth, having clinched their first home playoff game since the 2013 MLS Cup.

Only one question remains. Who will come out on top?

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Making History: LAFC Clinches First-Ever Playoff Spot and Breaking Records

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continued their historic run on Saturday when they booked their ticket for their first-ever Audi MLS Cup playoffs in a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in Commerce City – becoming the fifth MLS expansion team to reach the playoffs in their inaugural season.

LAFC has grown substantially in the past eight months. Even going back to the start of the season, the black-and-gold never found itself below the playoff line.¬†And now sitting on 53 points, they’re poised to surpass Atlanta United’s record of 56 points from last season. Including, being in the position to overtake 1998 Chicago Fire for the best regular season by an expansion team in MLS history – by¬†breaking their current MLS record of 57 points.

Additionally, LAFC is the first team to have three double-digit goalscorers in its inaugural season Рmarking them as the 12th team in MLS history to have three scorers in any season.

Adama Diomande‘s back-to-back goals in Colorado brought the Norwegian striker’s goal count for the season to 11, making him the third member of LAFC’s squad to reach that milestone and add to the club’s ongoing history – Carlos Vela (11), Dio (11), and Diego Rossi (10).

LAFC has scored 61 goals, thus far, and are tied¬†for second-most in MLS with the LA Galaxy, so it’s not surprising the black-and-gold has been producing outstanding results for their 2018 campaign.¬†And that’s not even acknowledging the fact Dio joined the club this May; meanwhile, Vela missed around five matches while playing in the World Cup during the summer.

The black-and-gold will have the chance to move closer to break, yet, another record with three matches to spare. They could potentially break Atlanta’s record of 70 goals by an expansion team in its first year.

Tied with Sporting Kansas City for third place in a now tighter race for the Western Conference, LAFC will host the Houston Dynamo and the Vancouver Whitecaps, concluding the regular season on the road in Kansas City searching for an opportunity to host their first playoff match.

The black-and-gold will be put up to the test when they face the¬†Houston Dynamo this Friday, October 12.¬†The last time these two clubs met was in the Lamar Hunt’s U.S. Open Cup semifinals – when LAFC fell in a controversial upset.

Fortunately, the black-and-gold currently has an 8-1-6 record at home and will have their dedicated fanbase to cheer them on for the full 90 minutes.

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Playoffs Scenarios, Colorado Preview, MLS 22 Under 22 List, Gold Links

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Chicago Surprise

In an odd turn of events, what should have been an easy win, backfired Рas the black and gold fell to the Chicago Fire in a surprising 3-1 road loss. Diego Rossi would score the lone goal for the Los Angeles Football Club.

Looking ahead to their second-straight road match, the black-and-gold will travel to Denver to face the Colorado Rapids in search of clinching a playoff spot.

Danilo Silva has returned to training and is expected to make the trip to Colorado. However, Latif Blessing still remains on the injured list.

Playoffs Chances

A win and we’re in.

LAFC needs to defeat the Colorado Rapids this Saturday to secure a spot in the club’s first-ever MLS playoffs.

Digital Manager Vince La Rosa discussed other possible scenarios, should the black-and-gold have any unexpected surprises.

MLS 22 Under 22 List

On Thursday, the league released their annual MLS 22 Under 22 List with a total of four players appearing on this year’s list, the most in any club:

  • #3 Diego Rubio – Forward, Age 20
  • #11 Latif Blessing – Forward, Age 21
  • #13 Andr√© Horta – Midfielder 20
  • #16 Eduard Atuesta – Midfielder, Age 21

Luis Lopez Called-Up

Goalkeeper Luis López has been called up to the Honduras National Team for its friendly with the United Arab Emirates on October 11 at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in Barcelona.

LAFC acquired the rookie goalkeeper from¬†Real C.D. Espa√Īa of the Honduran First Division on January 24, 2018. L√≥pez made his LAFC debut against Sporting KC on August 11 – after a lengthy recovery from a leg injury.

The 25-year-old will join fellow MLS players Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto in the Honduran squad.

Gold Links

For this week’s fun links, LAFC gifted us another episode of Beita Time and a thrilling background story of Latif Blessing:

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Playoffs Quest in the wild, wild west continues

Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy – Match Preview

Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS.

When: Saturday, October 6, 7:30 p.m. CT.

How to watch: FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.


Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Sporting KC Contributor

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The lion is coming to Kansas City.

Sporting Kansas City will host the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park as they¬†look to clinch a playoff spot and reclaim first place (even for a brief moment) on Saturday.

The last time these two clubs met was when Sporting KC defeated the Galaxy in a 2-0 victory when they visited the StubHub Center in Carson on Sunday, April 8.

The LA Galaxy is coming in hot off of a two-straight shutout – having defeated the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps – and will look to dash Sporting KC’s playoffs hopes.

LA Galaxy are now 4-7-4 on the road and have been having a turbulent campaign this season. Now with a new interim coach, the Galaxy are just two points away from knocking Real Salt Lake below the line.

I interviewed my fellow colleague, Michelle Huitink to get the insight:

Michelle Huitink - LA Galaxy/mlsfemale
Official LA Galaxy Reporter

By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink

Araceli Villanueva: LA Galaxy is coming off a two-straight shutout streak and seems to be performing well after Sigi’s departure. But is Dominic Kinnear the answer?

Michelle Huitink: I think having Michael Ciani and Jorgen Skjelvik on the bench is part of the reason the Galaxy are doing well.

Those decisions were made by [Dom]¬†Kinnear, so in that sense, it’s working. He’s been going with basic formations.¬†But, something definitely has been figured out, also among the players. Defensively they’ve really tightened up and are playing confidently. The touches on the ball are much better, they connect more, and are making fewer defensive mistakes.¬†Plus, the absence of Sigi [Schmid] is the reason they are doing better.

That said, I don’t want him to be a permanent coach.¬†He’s been on the coaching staff, so I don’t see him having any secrets.¬†Even when “weaker” links get subbed in, the Galaxy is still able to hang on.¬†I honestly need to see more games to say for sure; the road games will be a good test.¬†So, I can’t really say it’s because he took over.

AV: The Western Conference has been tight this season and with the Galaxy just barely holding on, do you think the team will change anything (formation, roster, etc.) when they visit KC?

MH:¬†Rolf Feltscher is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Though, I wouldn’t want¬†Ema Boateng to start. [Boateng] has been playing well, too, but he’s a little short in height. His speed and that he gets between defenders are what makes him great, but we need those fresh legs in the second half – that’s when results from him really stand out. Romney and Steres seem like a good combo. Cole‘s experience shows. Additionally, Jonathan Dos Santos is a good connection between midfield and the defense – thanks to¬†Kinnear.

I think we’ll see the same lineup. I would hope they wouldn’t change what they don’t have to if it’s working. Plus, if they keep the same formation and lineup, it can¬†be a better sample for comparing the last two matches to road games. Gio Dos Santos seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth – minus seeing him at the season ticket holder player signing event. And since the playoffs are hanging in the balance, there’s no reason Zlatan Ibrahimovic would miss this game.

AV: Ibrahimovic is red hot right now. However, over the summer he fueled rumors about him potentially returning to Europe after the season ends – what is the latest update?

MH:¬†At the season ticket member event on September 30th at Alpine Village Restaurant, he said he might return next season. The fans started chanting “one more year!” He’s shut down rumors about returning to Malmo despite offers.

In my personal opinion, he’s said his focus is on the Galaxy and he turned down a lot of other offers (and money) to come here. Some would say to stay here, he would want a raise since our backline is paid more.

Featured image: @sportingkc Instagram

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Sporting KC splits points with Real Salt Lake in 1-1 draw

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Sporting KC Contributor

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The race for the playoffs continues as Sporting Kansas City remains in second place in the Western Conference as they settle for a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park. The dramatic match saw goals from Ike Opara and rookie forward Corey Baird.

Sporting KC kicked off the match by coming close to scoring early after the whistle blew when Felipe Gutierrez finds the ball. Then Sporting KC earned a great set piece, thanks to a foul by Nick Besler – Matt Besler’s little brother – on Kristian Nemeth. However, Zusi’s curler goes over the crossbar.

Then the tide turned as Damir Kreilach ran the ball down but was stopped by Gerso Fernandes and Opara twice during the 7th minute.

A minute later, Jefferson Savarino runs the ball straight through Sporting KC’s defense to Baird, who then takes the early goal for the visitors giving RSL a 1-0 lead.

Sporting KC was quick to respond by creating a few opportunities but fell flat. RSL came close to doubling their lead, however, Tim Melia was able to misdirect RSL to the right of the goal post.

Trailing by one, Sporting KC consistently pressured RSL’s defense searching for the equalizer. But the home side would see most opportunities get deflected by goalkeeper Nick Rimando¬†– who came up huge having recorded six saves.

The home side would have a chance to level just three minutes after the restart when Gutierrez found Graham Zusi with a diagonal ball, and Zusi sent in a low cross from the right side, but Rimando deflected the ball over the bar in a full stretch.

Opara sparked life back into the game by leveling the match with a perfect header over Rimando off a corner during the 52nd minute.

With the match leveled, the action escalated. Fast.

Opara’s equalizer sparked life into the match, as Sporting KC got their momentum back. But RSL almost saw a chance go begging in the 58th minute when Melia turned away Savarino’s long-distance sledgehammer.

The visitors would go much closer in the 73rd minute, however, when Baird culminated another devastating counter with a chip shot over Melia that caromed off the crossbar.

Sporting KC threatened twice, only for Rimando to intervene on both occasions. Second-half substitute Diego Rubio slipped a lovely pass in behind the RSL defense for Gerso Fernandes in the 81st minute, but the winger’s first touch allowed the RSL goalkeeper to race off his line and extinguish the danger.

Six minutes later, Zusi found Rubio near the penalty spot, but the Chilean’s side-footed attempt through traffic was blocked by Rimando’s extended left foot.

Sporting KC scrambled for the final moments of the match looking to increase their goal but despite all efforts had to split points with the Western Conference foe.

Now Sporting KC will aim at a chance for the playoffs when they host LA Galaxy on Saturday, October 6.

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LAFC sets sights on playoffs ahead of road match in Chicago

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club may still be sitting in third place following FC Dallas’ win this past weekend, but the black-and-gold remains in good faith as they look to secure a spot in their first-ever playoffs – following a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Although the match against the Earthquakes had a low-performance attacking-wise, it displayed the importance of set pieces and saw the return of Adama Diomande. Including a strong-willed Walker Zimmerman scored a pair of headers, a first in his MLS career. Regardless, the win will prove to be beneficial as the black-and-gold moves forward.

LAFC’s magic number is now six.

During the press conference on Wednesday evening, Tyler Miller expressed the team’s mentality as being determined and uses their absence from the Lamar Hunt Open Cup Championship as motivation – moving forward for the final stretch:

“I think everyone’s done a great job. Moving¬†forward we five really important games that could set up a nice situation for us getting a first-round bye in the playoffs,” Miller stated.

According to LAFC’s Digital Content Manager¬†Vince La Rosa, LAFC can clinch a playoff spot by taking all three points in their upcoming pair of road matches in Chicago and Colorado, regardless of what Vancouver does. In addition to, possibly earning themselves a first-round bye.

Additionally, those six points would also bring “LAFC level for the highest points total” by an expansion team in its inaugural season – the Chicago Fire currently holds that record with 56 points in 2017.

La Rosa had previously reported that head coach Bob Bradley and the team discussed a goal of 60 points, and after the match against the Earthquakes, Bradley confirmed the goal.

With just five games left in the regular season with three on the road, I’m confident Bradley’s men can finish their 2018 campaign strong.

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