Los Angeles Football Club rebounded from their loss to the Chicago Fire with a much-needed road win against the Colorado Rapids to clinch a playoff berth on Saturday evening, winning 3-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
LAFC got off to a hot start and blew the game wide open from the beginning, with a chance from Diego Rossi that barely missed in the fifth minute. Carlos Vela had the ball at the center circle and found Adama Diomande in Colorado’s half, and Dio was able to find Rossi running right past the center of Colorado’s defense. Rossi found himself quickly one-on-one with Tim Howard, and although he got it past Howard, he missed the outside of the right post by just inches, and Colorado walked away lucky to still be level in the first five minutes.
After a flurry of chances and shots from LAFC minutes after Rossi’s opportunity, the Black-and-Gold went ahead in the 15th minute. Walker Zimmerman hammered a header off an Aaron Kovar cross right past Tim Howard, as the corner kick went right past the six-yard box. Zimmerman, a known aerial threat on set pieces, could not miss from that distance, and put LAFC ahead early, a lead they would not lose.
LAFC kept up the pressure, although not enjoying the majority of the possession, in the first half, and got another goal just before the halftime whistle blew. Lee Nguyen found Diomande from the top of the box as Dio slid right past Axel Sjoberg, who found himself in no-man’s-land. Diomande showed off his finishing skills once again, powering the ball past Tim Howard. LAFC’s second goal was Dio’s first since scoring a brace against Orlando in July, and put him in double digit goals for the season. The Black-and-Gold then went into the halftime break with a well-earned 2-0 lead.
LAFC, and Diomande, picked up right where they left off in the second half. Just three minutes after play resumed, Diomande bagged his second of the night when he slipped past Sjoberg again, and Aaron Kovar put the ball right at his feet. Dio did the rest, managing to get the ball just past Howard for LAFC’s third goal of the night. That goal also put Dio at 11 goals on the season, tying Carlos Vela for the most on LAFC, which is not bad for a guy who joined the team in May.
Colorado was quick to adjust after LAFC’s third goal, making two changes in the 53rd minute. Forward Giles Barnes came off for Yannick Boli, and midfielder Johan Blomberg made way for Niki Jackson. This allowed Colorado to push further forward up the pitch to keep LAFC’s defense on its toes, which showed as the second half went on. While LAFC were able to keep Colorado off the scoresheet, the Rapids did maintain 55 percent of the possession through the game. Fortunately for LAFC, however, Colorado only had one shot on target, in the dying minutes, going down as a save for Tyler Miller, and the Black-and-Gold were able to take advantage in the second half of space in the Rapids’ midfield to move forward and cause some problems.
This win by LAFC officially clinches a spot in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, in the club’s first year of existence. LAFC stands in third place in the Western Conference with 63 points. They are level on points with Sporting Kansas City (thanks to Johnny Russell rescuing a point against the LA Galaxy), but sitting behind on goal difference. As of now, LAFC would have a home playoff game against Real Salt Lake in the first round, with SKC getting a bye.
LAFC’s next match is at home during the international break against the Houston Dynamo on October 12, which will be the first meeting with Houston since the excruciating loss in penalties in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal. LAFC will then host the Vancouver Whitecaps on the 21st, and then have a big-time Decision Day matchup with SKC in Kansas City on the 28th. The end of the season is almost here!
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