Tag Archives: Latif Blessing

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.

Featured image: @LAFC

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Rainy Comeback: LAFC 2, Houston 2

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Even mother nature couldn’t stop the comeback that was going to happen. LAFC earns one point in a 2-2 draw against Houston.

After the hour and a half rain delay, the black-and-gold kicked things off with an early goal in the first five minutes. Lee Nguyen, in his 200th MLS appearance, fed the ball from outside the box to Adama Diomande – whom then connected with Latif Blessing, who slotted the ball home giving LAFC their early lead.

The black-and-gold continued to dominate possession in the second half and was close to adding another to their lead in the 52nd minute. Benny Feilhaber started the strong play when he got the ball from Nguyen and passed it to Blessing.

Blessing tried to pass off to Diomande, but his pass was intercepted and deflected back to him. He then tried to pass again to Dio, although he may have been able to slot the ball home, and that pass was also deflected and then cleared.

The black-and-gold would create another dangerous play in the 72nd minute when Tyler Miller came out of his box to clear a through ball, which Walker Zimmerman then volleyed up the field. The ball then landed to Mark-Anthony Kaye, who looped the ball around to Diomande. Diomande sent the ball forward back to Kaye, who dribbled it past Senderos and slotted the ball into the back of the net extending the lead 2-0.

Just when you thought LAFC was going to return to the west coast with all three points, the host breathes life into the comeback quest after Mauro Manotas and Philippe Senderos leveled the match during stoppage time. Fortunately, time ran out before the host could put away a third – splitting points between both teams.

LAFC will host Orlando City on Saturday, July 7. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. PT.

Featured image of Nguyen: @LAFC

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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.

Featured image: @LAFC

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A Brace? What a Blessing!

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Saturday, May 13: 2-2 Draw

Man, the wordplay is…well it’s something I guess.

Here we are with another short week for Sporting KC. A game against Orlando City FC on Saturday, and then one against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night. So that leaves us with some quick fire articles.

On Saturday my husband and I were driving to the watch party for the game only to get stuck in a traffic jam where the main highway into downtown KC was closed for construction. Then we had to navigate the patrons for the Garth Brooks concert at the Sprint Center, and after that we got to walk through a country concert at KC Live in Power and Light. Quick note: We are not country people. We walked through this concert wearing Vans and Sambas so that we could get to No Other Pub. There were soooo many pairs of boots.

After the saga of getting to the watch party, we finally made it around the 11th minute. By that time, Latif Blessing had already scored his first goal! Ilie fed a ball up to Gerso who looked like he was going to shoot it, but he sent in a cross that tipped off a sliding Matt Besler and Latif tapped it in. The goal came off of a cleared setpiece hence Besler still being up front. Not going to lie, but I’m lucky that this game was the MLS Condensed Game of the Week or I would have just been confused… If the darn highlights started just a smidge earlier. Also, darn you Garth Brooks!

Orlando came back pretty quickly when Cyle Larin snuck onside and past our defense to score their first goal. There was a slight uproar in twitter land about Larin being unmarked, and that seems founded. The defenders did seem mighty occupied with the cross. Ten minutes later there was an Orlando City breakaway, and Kaka found the back of the net. It was a beautifully handled ball, so I’ll say I can’t be too mad. That’s a lie. I hate losing, but it was a pretty play.

Until Latif’s second goal, we’ll get to that in a second, all I could think was, “We have to get a goal. Our offense looks too solid and too organized to not get one.” But all we were getting were good runs into the attacking third and lots of possession time. It seemed that Sporting was utilizing their strong passing game almost to a fault. We’d pass the ball around and let Orlando City flood the box with defenders. There was finally a crack in the defense when Gerso got the ball to Benny Feilhaber who played an on target shot that was deflected by Joe Bendik straight to Latif who tapped another short goal. There was definitely an undercurrent of “Finally!” to the celebrations at No Other Pub!

Let’s talk about Bendik right quick. Here in KC we have one of the best keepers in the league. Maybe the best this season. His name is Tim Melia. He is a unicorn, a hero, and a class act. I have not seen Tim Melia lean over a player from the opposing team and scream in his face no matter the circumstance. Joe Bendik leaned over Latif Blessing twice and screamed in his face. I understand that Latif dove a few times, and one or two were blatant. Knowing Peter Vermes, I also doubt that Latif will be doing that anymore. Joe Bendik needs to back off. Did it hurt him, no. Maybe he should have stopped those goals.

Fun Facts

Tim Melia and Ike Opara have been named to the MLS First Quarter Best XI. Sporting’s two players tie them with Orlando City for having the most players on the team.

Mo Johnson will be added to the Sporting Legends on Wednesday which is also Retro Night! Get ready to see a bunch of Charlie Brown jerseys!

Three Sporting KC players completed over 96% of their passes in game against Orlando City…passing game on point.

See you all on Wednesday for SKC v SEA! No Joevin Jones for Seattle. Bring it on, Deuce!

#WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

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