By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
The Los Angeles Football Club played Toronto FC to a 1-1 draw in a high-intensity match after returning a two-game road series on Saturday night at the Banc of California stadium.
Although it wasn’t their best performance, the match gave us a glimpse of the DP trio (Carlos Vela, Brian Rodriguez, and Diego Rossi). And we finally saw Diego Palacios on the bench for the first time since signing with the club last month.
Mark-Anthony Kaye tried a through ball just two minutes after the whistle, but Vela was caught offside – setting the tone for the match.
Moments later, Vela challenged Michael Bradley in a game of keep away. The captain defeated the younger Bradley but still couldn’t get through the backline to create a chance.
Toronto FC’s Tsubasa Endoh claimed the lead in the 19th minute after sending in a low cross into the corner off Jozy Altidore’s cross from inside the box.
The miscommunication between defenders continued when Jordan Harvey and Eddie Segura missed a chance to pass; that eventually led to Toronto getting around LAFC’s defense and opening up a dangerous scoring opportunity. In the 30th minute, Marky Delgado took a shot from the right side of the box that was blocked by a sliding Walker Zimmerman.
Trailing by one – Rossi initially answered the young Japanese midfielder’s goal with the equalizer in the 33rd minute, burying a perfect through ball inside the near post. But as the script goes, his goal was called offsides.
Missing our normal dynamic midfield, the first half was met with a disorganized mess as LAFC struggled to dismantle Toronto FC’s tough defense.
Tristian Blackmon replaced Steven Beitashour at right back as a halftime substitute.
The substitution was a good move for the Black & Gold as they dominated possession and bumped up their shot total to 11, keeping Toronto’s keeper Quentin Westberg on high alert. However, LAFC continued to struggle to find their way around Toronto FC’s defense – that constantly adjusted to match the hosts’ combination plays.
Lee Nguyen came on to replace Zimmerman in the 75th minute moving to a three-man back line.
LAFC’s inaugural captain Laurent Ciman was greeted with applause from the crowd when he made his return to the Banc; coming on for Toronto the next minute.
In the third minute of stoppage time, Latif Blessing drew the penalty after Chris Mavinga scissored him in the chest inside the penalty area. Referee Ted Unkel initially awarded only a corner but changed this ruling after using VAR review.
The captain stepped up to convert the penalty, scoring his 29th career goal, and giving the home side a point in their third-straight draw of the season.
Despite leading the Supporters’ Shield, the Black & Gold are winless in their last five games while drawing four, and could not officially clinch the overall top seed this past weekend.
But not all hope is lost.
According to LAFC’s Digital Manager, Vince La Rosa, LAFC’s new magic number is three and they have two solid chances to secure the Supporters’ Shield on Wednesday.
Next up, the club will host former player Christian Ramirez and the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, September 25th.
Featured Image: LAFC
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