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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
CarlosVela 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.
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.
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.
While sporting new threads, the Los Angeles Football Club wrapped up their 2019 preseason with a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at Banc of California Stadium. Carlos Vela scored the lone goal of the evening.
Prior to kickoff, LAFC officially launched the new 2019 secondary kit. The clean white-and-grey kit made its debut on the field, and fans seemed pleased with this year’s design.
Inspired by the “materials and textures that make up the city of Los Angeles,” the new kit gives those urban vibes by featuring thin white stripes in gray hoops. But the pattern is inconsistent, with darker spots and sharp cuts in the pattern. Additionally, the new jock tag has the stylized wing featuring the slogan “Street X Street, Block X Block, One X One,” a nod to the mantra the club has used to build its fanbase.
With new kits in hand, season ticket holders were ready to watch their team finish preseason in a favorable fashion.
The match started off as expected as head coach Bob Bradley fielded a full-strength lineup. Including the trio of Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta and Lee Nguyen, who collectively found ways to help each other move the ball up the pitch.
Carlos Vela scored the opener in the 13th minute, as Christian Ramirez – who was a constant source of pressure for the defense – sent a pass to Vela, who then dribbled upfield and finished calmly with his right foot to beat Zac MacMath.
There was a concerning sight shortly after the restart, as Vela picked up a knock and was forced to exit the match in the 52nd minute.
“It’s the knee; he was protecting the ball,and he sort of got hit a bit from the side,” Bradley told reporters. “He’s sore, and we just need to see how he looks tomorrow and get it looked at tomorrow.”
LAFC saw plenty of chances to double the score during the second half but failed to convert. Fortunately, the black and gold successfully kept their former assistant coach’s team from equalizing—ending in a 1-0 win.
Although scores don’t matter much during the preseason, Saturday’s performance provided a glimpse of what to expect ahead of the season opener against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, March 3.