Tag Archives: LAFC

Carlos Vela: Is he the next rising King of MLS?

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Despite dropping their first match of 2019 on the road Wednesday to the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Los Angeles Football Club has been dominating the league this season, thus far. And at the helm, is Captain Carlos Vela.

The 30-year-old forward has recorded eight goals and five assists with his eighth being in last weekend’s match against FC Cincinnati. Vela has also logged his first hat-trick in San Jose, California on March 30 in a 5-0 win.

LAFC may not be the King of the North anymore, but is Vela still the best in LA?

Let me explain.

Vela practically owns Team of the Week, having appeared in it for three consecutive weeks and is currently leading the league in four categories: (8) goals, (5) assists, (46) shots, and, (17) shots on goal and ranks third in the Audi Player Index Ratings. In addition to being voted the MLS Player of the Month for March of the 2019 MLS season.

Before joining the black-and-gold in 2018, Vela was already a well-decorated player. He is best known for his role on the Mexican National Team and for having stints with Arsenal and Real Sociedad. While with Arsenal he was loaned out to multiple clubs (Celta de Vigo, Salamanca, Osasuna, etc.) due to work permit restrictions that prevented from playing in England. But in 2008, Vela was granted a work permit and would go on to score eleven goals for the EPL team. In 2012, Carlos was officially transferred to Real Sociedad; recording 73 goals over a five-year span.

Vela was LAFC’s first-ever designated player signing from La Liga club Real Sociedad on August 11, 2017. In the agreement, he remained with his former club until January 1, 2018.

The club continues to break records this season. After setting the bar high during their inaugural season, the black-and-gold are still looking to push boundaries. This year alone, with six wins and a draw through seven games, “only 2012 Sporting Kansas City and 1996 LA Galaxy have done better,” each winning all of their seven opening matches.

Naturally, being placed at the top of everyone’s radar doesn’t come without a bit of controversy. Herculez Gomez and Sebastian Salazar of the Two on Tri podcast discussed if Vela is just “coasting” in MLS. They argue the Mexican International has not been performing at his best.

While some may agree with their sentiments: ‘do I think he’s coasting?’ Eh, somewhat. After comparing the past teams he’s played for, the forward does seem to pick and choose his moments. But Vela has taken on the captain role seriously and improved greatly since 2018.

Vela has yet to address the accusations. However, during a press conference last week the captain stated: he wants to be the best in MLS. And he’s off to a great start.

Of course, it is still early in the season to declare Vela the 2019 MVP; but as long as Carlos continues to develop throughout the course of this season – he can surely make 2019 his year.

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LAFC Shakes Up San Jose In 5-0 Win

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club continued their undefeated run in a 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on Saturday – the largest win in club history.

As fans shook the stadium (literally!), LAFC wasted little time gaining possession as the midfield devastated San Jose’s approach. The trio: Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, and Latif Blessing, were all well in sync leading the way.

In the eight minute, Daniel Vargas’ error would leave an open net for the Mexican captain as he casually walked in a goal to open the scoring account for the visitors.

Former Quakes, Steven Beitashour and Diego Rossi, also added a goal of their own, respectively. Rossi nearly got the early lead in the fifth minute; after forcing a turnover he found himself 1-on-1 with the goal but his shot was saved.

Although San Jose won in terms of possession at 52.1%, LAFC was sharp in retrieving the ball after losing it. The Earthquakes did manage to break through LAFC’s defense twice but saw both opportunities saved by Tyler Miller – who earned his first clean sheet of the season.

Carlos Vela. Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate this captain. Vela, who continues to lead the league has scored some special goals during his tenure with LAFC, but his hat trick proved to be his best. It was his 20th since his arrival in the MLS, and sixth this season.

After bagging his second goal just before the half, it wouldn’t take long for the Mexican International to curl home his first hat trick in the 66th minute.

LAFC remains on the road as they travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and company on Saturday, April 6.

Photo credit: LAFC

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela’s Home Run, Loans, National Team Call-Ups, Gold Links

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Vela leads LAFC to 2-2 Draw in New York

Last weekend, the luck of the Irish was on LAFC’s side as they earned a hard-fought point on the road in a 2-2 draw against New York City FC on Sunday.

Carlos Vela continues to be the most influential player by keeping the ball moving, bagging a pair of goals to extend LAFC’s undefeated streak for a remarkable start of their 2019 campaign.

Missing Lee Nyguen and Steven Beitashour due to injuries, LAFC pushed through. An uneven playing surface proved to be problematic for the first half but LAFC adjusted to regain more control in the midfield; it was less effective. But the strategy wreaked havoc for NYCFC.

Click here for the full recap

But the main story is the supporters who traveled to the match. Around 200 to 300 supporters’ chants were loud and clear on FS1’s broadcast for the full 90 minutes. It felt like I was back at the Banc.

Loans. Loans. Loans.

Last week, LAFC announced they have loaned four players to USL side, Phoenix Rising FC – defenders Tristian Blackmon and Shaft Brewer Jr., midfielder Javier Perez, and forward Josh Perez.

According to the club statement: “Per the Right of Recall incorporated in the loan agreements, LAFC retains the right to call the players at any point during the MLS regular season, subject to MLS roster compliance guidelines.”

Blackmon, Brewer Jr., and Perez have spent time with Phoenix last season. This will be Javier Perez’s first loan in the USL Championship.

International Duty

It’s a player’s dream to receive a call-up for national duty. And for LAFC, several players’ dreams became a reality as Christian Ramirez, Peter-Lee Vassell, Mark Anthony Kaye, and Mohamed El-Munir have been called in to serve their national teams, respectively.

All five players will miss this weekend’s home match against Real Salt Lake.

Here’s the breakdown:

Christian Ramirez – United States of America

The Santa Ana native is no stranger to the United States Men’s National Team after spending time in the January camp with fellow teammates, Tyler Miller and Walker Zimmerman.

His past performances, which were highlighted by scoring a goal in the 3-0 win over Panama, earned him another call-up when USMNT’s head coach Gregg Berhalter released the roster for upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Chile.

Ramirez did not appear in the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday night in Orlando, Florida. But he could have a chance to appear as the USMNT takes on Chile on Tuesday, March 26 in Houston, Texas.

Peter-Lee Vassell – Jamaica

The 21-year-old has made two substitute appearances for the black-and-gold this season. Jamaica faces El Salvador on March 23 in Concacaf Nations League play.

The Reggae Boyz currently have three wins in the competition.

Mark-Anthony Kaye – Canada

After missing the remainder of 2018 due to an ankle injury, Kaye started in the first two LAFC matches.

Kaye will join the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan Osorio, and Cyle Larin the 23-man squad. Canada faces French Guiana on March 24, needing a win to secure its place in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Mohamad El-Munir – Libya

El-Munir has appeared on the roster for the first three matches but has yet to make his club debut. Libya is set to take on South Africa on March 24 in Group E of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

Josh Perez – US U-23 squad

The United States’ Under-23 Men’s National Team will play its first matches of the 2020 U-23 cycle with a pair of friendlies in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain; the first under newly named manager Jason Kreis.

Included on the twenty-three man roster is LAFC forward Josh Perez, who joined LAFC in August before going on loan to Phoenix Rising FC where he remains so far this season.

The Olympic hopefuls will face Egypt on Friday, March 22 and the Netherlands on Sunday, March 24. Both matches are set to kick off at 12 p.m. ET at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar.

Gold Links

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Match Preview: LAFC Hosts Sporting KC for Season Opener

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

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

When: Sunday, March 3rd, 5:30 p.m. PT.

How to watch: ESPN, ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980

LAFC is back!

With the first team roster set and tensions on the rise, the Los Angeles Football Club will host Sporting Kansas City in a thrilling matchup for the 2019 Season Opener at Banc of California Stadium.

After completing a prolific 2018 campaign, LAFC is looking to start the new season on a high note – defeating Sporting KC at home.

The club lost twice to Sporting KC last season – resulting in LAFC’s first home loss during the regular season and again on Decision Day in Kansas City, Kan., with SKC staying atop the western conference, leaving LAFC second seed going into the 2018 playoffs. All things considered, the black-and-gold isn’t taking Sunday’s contest too lightly:

“They’re a good team and that last game on the road was a difficult one in that it would have decided our place in the standings that very last day,” Jordan Harvey told reporters. “KC is a difficult team. We just have to go at them and be more aggressive.”

Goalkeeper Tyler Miller shared similar sentiments:

“Last year we were a different team. They were a different team. So we’re looking at this game as a completely separate thing from that series,” Miller said. “We know they’re coming off of two Concacaf Champions League games – so we know they’re going to have a little bit of an edge in playing those two games early. But we think we have a strong team and we know it’s going to be a tough matchup – I think we’re all confident in our team.”

Sporting KC will be coming into LA hot off a historic defeat of Deportivo Toluca FC in the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16, advancing to the next stage.

Roster rotation? Possibly. Physically, Sporting KC can continue on the road and will “move the team around a little bit.” But the team understands Sunday’s marquee match will be a difficult task and are looking to take things up a notch.

Manager Peter Vermes has fielded the same starting XI for both matches. Kelyn Rowe and Erik Hurtado made their club debuts in Kansas City during the first leg – then appearing again as late substitutions in Mexico. There is a chance one of them could earn a start on Sunday. But if we have to be honest, I feel Vermes will start the same lineup – using early substitutions given Sporting KC will immediately continue their globe-trotting adventures to Panama for the next round just days after the MLS opener.

After last weekend’s brief scare, Carlos Vela has been seen back in full training this week. The captain is still listed as “day to day” with a knee injury and has yet to be ruled out for Sunday.

The return of Mark-Anthony Kaye: Coming back after suffering a season-ending injury, Kaye is ready to return to the pitch and he displayed that same determination during the preseason.

Debuts? Although I do not see Peter-Lee Vassell starting, I predict he could make his club debut that evening, along with Shaft Brewer Jr. or Mohamed El-Munir.

LAFC Projected Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Lee Nguyen; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Sporting KC Projected Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Andreu Fontas, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; Ille Sanchez, Roger Espinoza, Felipe Guiterrez, Johnny Russell, Krisztian Nemeth, Gerso Fernandes

Photo credit: Erick Gonzales

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Preseason, Vissel Kobe, USMNT update, Gold Links

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club kicked off their six-match preseason with a 3-1 victory against Toronto FC on Sunday evening.

Andre Horta, Diego Rossi, and newcomer, Peter-Lee Vassell scored all three goals for the home side, while Toronto’s Drew Moor pulled one back for the visitors late in the match.

Baggio Husidic, former LA Galaxy midfielder, who is on trial with the club – made his debut for LAFC after entering for Eduard Atuesta before halftime. If given a contract, he can provide some depth in the midfield area.

Although it was only the first match and the results don’t benefit much, it was nice to see a win from the Black and Gold after a string of losses that ended their season early last year.

LAFC will host Columbus Crew, Atlanta United, San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver in Banc of California stadium for the remainder of preseason.

Supporters and the public are invited to attend the second-ever international friendly and season ticket members will have an opportunity to attend the final preseason match on Saturday, Feb. 23.

USMNT Update: Zimmerman and Ramirez scores in Sunday’s win

The United States Men’s National Team kicked off a new era under new head coach Gregg Berhalter on Sunday, opening their 2019 campaign with a 3-0 shutout against Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Following the opening goal from Chicago Fire’s Djordje Mihailovic in the 40th minute, LAFC’s favorite duo Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez scored a pair of goals back-to-back – securing the 3-0 shutout. 

January has been a busy month for Zimmerman. After much speculation, Zimmerman and LAFC agreed to a new four-year contract. The center back returns as an elite defender in his prime years – having six years of MLS experience and has been a regular for the U.S. Men’s National Team over the last year.

But Zimmerman wasn’t the only player from the Black and Gold to contribute – Ramirez, 27, earned his first international cap and marked the special occasion with a goal in the 89th minute.

Zimmerman and Ramirez will get another chance to shine on Saturday, Feb. 2, as the USMNT take on Costa Rica in San Jose, California.

Tyler Miller Returns to LAFC

Walker Zimmerman, Christian Ramirez, and Tyler Miller recently completed three weeks of USMNT camp in Chula Vista, California. Unfortunately, the team would leave behind four players, including Miller, before departing to Arizona.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper immediately returned to training with LAFC and played a vital role in Sunday’s contest.

LAFC’s friendly against Vissel Kobe

With the re-signing of Walker Zimmerman and the subsequent return of defenders Danilo Silva and Dejan Jakovic a day later, LAFC is bringing back 18 members of its inaugural squad. And in returning that core, a season after setting the standard for first-year teams in MLS, the club and its fans are asking: What can this group of players achieve with a full season under their belts?

The Black and Gold will have a chance to answer that question as they host Vissel Kobe for a preseason friendly this Thursday.

Vassell, Perez, and Mendoza are Black and Gold

LAFC surprised fans when they traded their first-round pick to FC Cincinnati during the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago.

But head coach Bob Bradley isn’t to be underestimated and the club didn’t leave empty handed as LAFC selected Peter-Lee Vassell, Javi Perez, and Kevin Mendoza.

Here’s what we know about these three draftees:

  • Peter-Lee Vassell – 40th overall pick

Before hitting the pitch, Vassell is already an interesting case.

The 19-year-old is one the few players who did not get selected out of college. Instead, the midfielder found his route to the SuperDraft via the 2018 Caribbean Combine, being selected MVP and earning an invite to the main MLS Combine. Additionally, he is on the senior international with Jamaica – having recorded eight caps and five goals, thus far.

  • Javi Perez – 64th overall pick

At just 20-years-old, the Spanish midfielder wanted a change of scenery after playing for Spain’s La Liga club Valencia CF – serving as the team’s captain for twelve years.

Perez spent the last two years at the University of Pittsburgh, having started in all 35 games he played. As a senior in 2018, he ranked second on the team with eleven points, four goals, and three assists.

A junior transfer from Spain, Perez was a two-time captain for the Panthers, earning USC All-South Region Third Team honors in 2018 and Second Team All-ACC in 2017-18.

  • Kevin Mendoza – 73rd overall pick

Mendoza spent the past four years at Liberty University, earning all-conference honors all four seasons, including first team accolades from 2016-18. A two-year captain for the Flames, Mendoza finished his collegiate career with 32 goals and 15 assists.

The 25-year-old midfielder graduated from Colegio de Bachilleres in his hometown of Mexico City, while also playing for Cruz Azul’s U-17 and U-20 squads.

Gold Links

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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 – as 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 André 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. España of the Honduran First Division on January 24, 2018. López 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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Battle in the Heatwave: LAFC 4, Orlando 1

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

July 7, 2018

It seems Mother Nature has truly been testing Los Angeles FC lately as they faced Houston Dynamo in rainy conditions and now Orlando City SC in the midst of a Californian heatwave. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop the black-and-gold from defeating Orlando in a 4-1 victory and remain undefeated at home.

LAFC started having to sustain some pressure from Orlando and dealing with attacking threats from Dom Dwyer, Sacha Kljestan, and Josue Colman for the first ten minutes.

Latif Blessing tries to head one in but it is denied by Joe Bendik. Blessing keeps the rebound alive and kicked it back in the group with his teammates waiting – the ball falls to Mark-Anthony Kaye who kicks it so lightly to Adama Diomande who then taps it in opening the scoring sheet for the black-and-gold.

In the 32nd minute, Aaron Kovar finds Blessing who slams it into the back of the net. LAFC leading 2-0 into the half.

The second half was filled with action as an energetic LAFC looked to add to their score. Kljestan looked to pull one for Orlando but Tyler Miller made a diving save to deny.

Tyler Miller deserves major props for making eight saves in the match, several of them 1v1 in crucial situations.

Diomande was close to earning the black-and-gold their third when he kicked in a loose ball, however, it was called offsides. Moments later, Kljestan found the goal in the 58th minute after Ciman forced the right-footed striker to clear one off his left-foot past Miller putting Orlando on the board 2-1.

The black-and-gold immediately was ready to respond with another goal when Blessing sent one to Kovar but the ball goes wide. Again another goal would be taken away thanks to VAR, luckily this time it was for Dom Dwyer in the 72nd minute. A frustrated Dwyer would try to score again – this time the goal would have been good – but Miller quickly rejected his chance.

In an action-filled two minutes, Diomande and Diego Rossi scored back-to-back goals near the 82nd minute. Diomande finished a rebound off of Laurent Ciman that sent Orlando scrambling to save it but the ball bounces off the crossbar over the line awarding the black-and-gold their third goal.

The dramatic play sparked an energy in the team as Diego Rossi slides one past Joe Bendik off a cross from Blessing securing LAFC’s 4-1 victory.

Additionally, Carlos Vela and Marco Ureña returned to Los Angeles from the 2018 World Cup to help their team win. Welcome back!

Now sitting in third place in the Western Conference, LAFC will host the Portland Timbers – the first of their two back-to-back meetings – on Sunday, July 15th. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. PT.

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World Cup Update: LAFC players shine in the first round of Group Stage

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The first round of the group stage for the 2018 World Cup has come to a close. Three LAFC players are currently participating in the 2018 World Cup in Russia: Carlos Vella, Marco Ureña, and Omar Gaber. While, Laurent Ciman is set to return to LA after returning to Belgium from Russia.

Mexico upsets Germany in historic match

Mexico makes a historic win in a 1-0 victory over Germany in Luzhniki Stadium. Defying all odds, El Tri defeated the defending 2014 World Cup champions winning their fifth opening match at the World Cup. Hiring Lozano – otherwise known as Chucky – broke through the machine’s defense to slide in the winning goal in the 35th minute.

Even though Carlos Vela only saw 60 minutes of action during this remarkable match – he played a crucial role in El Tri’s counterattack. Starting in a central attacking role behind Chicharito, Vela orchestrated multiple dangerous counterattacks from Mexico. Vela came close to adding to Mexico’s score in the 56th minute when he missed a perfect chance off a cross due to some sloppy footwork from Chicharito in a 2v1 advantage. With this style of play and Osorio’s praises, I predict we will see Vela starting for the other two remaining group matches.

El Tri will face South Korea on Saturday, June 23.

Costa Rica falls to Serbia 1-0

Marco Ureña received his first World Cup start and became the first player in LAFC history to participate in a World Cup. Unfortunately, Costa Rica dropped its opener 1-0.

The Ticos was close to creating the best opening before break when Ureña sent a left footed shot from outside the box, however, it flew over the bar in the 39th minute. Moments later, Francisco Calvo‘s attempt misses to the left of the goal going into halftime scoreless. Ureña played 67 minutes before being substituted off for Joel Campbell.

Aleksandar Kolorav finally broke the deadlock when he sent a free-kick into the top corner in the 56th minute giving Serbia the lead. The Ticos quickly searched for an equalizer but despite all efforts couldn’t do so resulting in their first loss of the tournament.

Costa Rica will continue to fight for points as they go up against Brazil in their next match. Nevertheless, Brazil tied with Switzerland on Sunday, so I don’t think it will be too much of a problem.

Egypt falls without Gaber

Egypt fell to the Uruguay 1-0 for their opening match and first appearance since 1990.

The match remained a stalemate until the 89th minute when José Giménez headed in the last minute goal off a free-kick from Carlos Sanchez securing Uruguay’s three points.

Omar Gaber shared the bench with famed player Mohamed “Mo” Salah as a substitute for the opener.

Ciman on standby

Laurent Ciman was put on standby ahead of Sunday’s match against Panama – in case of an injury. Ultimately, the LAFC captain left Russia and returned to Belgium.

It is unclear if Ciman will be able to help the black and gold advance to the next round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when they host Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, June 20. But if he is not back nor available for that match, he’ll likely return to LA just in time for next Saturday’s game against Columbus Crew SC.

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LAFC advances to the Round of 16 in 2-0 victory over Fresno

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Wednesday, June 6: 2-0 Win

Los Angeles Football Club advances to the Round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history in a 2-0 victory over Fresno FC at Banc at California Stadium on Wednesday. Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing scored the lone goals of the night.

The first half saw a battle of strong defense from both sides, however LAFC managed to create multiple chances around the 27th minute with chances from Calum Mallace and Walker Zimmerman. Despite their attempts, the game went into halftime scoreless.

The Foxes were close to opening up the scoring in the 49th minute when Danny Barrera whips a cross into the box, however, the ball landed in front of Agustin Cazarez who could not convert the chance.

Moments after Rossi replaced Adama Diomande, after leaving in extra time for a blow to the head – he gets the final touch and it trickles across the goal line to open the scoring in the 53rd minute. Just four minutes later, Blessing secured LAFC’s ticket to the Round of 16 after burying a loose ball in the box and doubling the score.

The Foxes continued to look for their first goal throughout the remainder of the half. In the 84th minute, Barrera sent a strike from 30 yards out but Tyler Miller was quick to deny Barrera giving the black and gold their first-ever U.S. Open Cup victory.

LAFC will host Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, June 20.

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The Road to Russia: Vela, Gaber, Beitashour and Ureña from LAFC named to provisional rosters

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Monday was a busy day for LAFC as the club announced four players named to their national team’s provisional squads, respectively. In addition to, Los Angeles will serve as one of the host cities for the Gold Cup in 2019.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is starting to heat up as managers of all 32 countries competing in the 2018 tournament officially released the provisional squad rosters on Monday. Each country’s coach selected between 30-35 players for their provisional squads.

Teams have until June 4 to announce their official 23-man tournament roster. However, some coaches have already announced their final rosters before the deadline. Including, Costa Rica’s head coach Óscar Ramírez.

The month-long tournament will kick off on June 15 with the group stage running till the 28th before going on a two-day break for the knockout phase. The final will take place on July 15 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

LAFC is the only MLS club with the most potential participants in this year’s tournament and is expected to have multiple players called up by their respective national teams:

Steven Beitashour – Iran

For the first time since 2014, defender Steven Beitashour has been called up by the Iranian National Team and has the opportunity to make his second appearance for the squad in the 2018 World Cup.

The San Jose native first featured for the Iranian National Team in 2013 and appeared in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He notched an assist in Iran’s 3-0 win over Thailand in Asian Cup qualifications in 2013 and was on the bench for the national team’s three group matches in Brazil.

Iran is the first team from the Asian Football Confederation to stamp their ticket to Russia. Iran was drawn into group B with Morocco, Spain, and Portugal – arguably the toughest group in the tournament. If selected, Beitashour could face Ronaldo.

Despite, the controversial call-ups of Masoud Shojaei and Ehsah Haji Safi – both players who were initially banned for life last year after playing for their Greek club Panionios against an Israeli team – Beitashour remains on the 35-man provisional roster. There is a chance he will not make the trip as head coach still has less than a month to whittle down his squad to 23 players for the tournament.

Omar Gaber – Egypt

Omar Gaber was named to Egypt’s 29-man provisional squad as The Pharaohs prepares for their first World Cup appearance since 1990. The 26-year-old defender is a veteran of World Cups in youth tournaments for Egypt and now has a chance to make his first appearance for the senior competition led by head coach Hector Cuper.

Egypt was selected to play in Group A with Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and the host country, Russia. Although Egypt won’t play the host country until June 19, Gaber’s presence can be huge for the team. Gaber has played 18 times for Egypt, appearing in five games in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

Carlos Vela – Mexico

Vela has been vital to the black and gold’s current success having scored his sixth MLS career goal this past Sunday in a dramatic 2-2 draw against New York City FC. Named to the 28-man preliminary roster by the boss Juan Carlos Osorio, Vela has a chance to bring his talent back to the world stage.

A veteran of the 2010 World Cup, Vela has been a consistent starter during Mexico’s qualifying campaign and helped his team stamp their ticket to Russia. Vela skipped the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to a long-standing dispute with the national team. However, he returned to the roster later that year. The forward has recorded 67 appearances and 18 goals for El Tri and is now on the verge of his second World Cup appearance.

Mexico was drawn into Group F consisting of Germany, Sweden, Korea Republic. Mexico is set to start their run on June 17 against the current World Cup champions and will need Vela’s help to hold off the German powerhouse.

Marco Ureña – Costa Rica

The 28-year-old LAFC forward Marco Ureña is part of the squad that will represent Costa Rica this summer and has been a key player for both club and country. Costa Rica’s head coach Óscar Ramírez announced his final roster the same day before the deadline, making it Ureña’s second World Cup selection.

The forward recently underwent surgery to repair a facial fracture injury he acquired in LAFC’s home opener against Seattle on April 29. As he continues to heal, it is expected Ureña will make the trip to Russia, and likely to play, too.

Although it is an honor to be called up for national duty, this means Ureña could possibly miss five games including the friendly against Borussia Dortmund, and potentially longer depending on how far Costa Rica advances.

Featured image courtesy: @FIFAWorldCup

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