Los Angeles Football Club were bound to make history on Sunday, and history happened in the brightest terms, as the expansion team played their first-ever competitive game, beating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 at CenturyLink Field to open the 2018 MLS regular season.
LAFC became the first MLS expansion team since the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011 to win their first ever game in league play, and Diego Rossi was the man to make more history, scoring the first goal for the new team.
LAFC nearly scored inside of two minutes, as Latif Blessing made a diving header off Rossi’s cross, but his shot pinged off the post.
That miss wasn’t totally catastrophic, however, as Rossi came through in the 11th minute, as Mark-Anthony Kaye and Carlos Vela combined, before the Mexican set up Rossi as he was making a run up the middle, and the Uruguayan blasted a shot past Stefan Frei, making history in the process with the team’s first-ever goal.
Two minutes later, Tyler Miller made a massive save for LAFC, as a shot from Nouhou was saved with a bend around the post by Miller. It was a remarkable save, truth be told.
LAFC started very strongly, but Seattle slowly played their way into the game, and the hosts took control as the game wore on. Miller came up with several big saves and catches, while Laurent Ciman made a huge clearance over the bar in the first half when it looked like Harry Shipp had an open goal inside of the box.
Shortly after the hour mark, Will Bruin scored for Seattle, but the goal was immediately chalked off as he was judged to be offside. Less than 10 minutes later, it looked like Vela had a penalty after a challenge from Handwalla Bwana, but the referee did a quick review and decided not to award a PK.
LAFC got a boost in the 83rd minute, as Tony Alfaro picked up his second yellow card in four minutes and was sent off for Seattle.
The result is seriously impressive on a number of levels. While the Sounders admittedly liberally rotated their lineup and Clint Dempsey wasn’t even in the 18 on the day, LAFC went on the road to one of the most intimidating environments and punched their opponent in the mouth. The attacking group started in sparkling fashion, while the defense had to work hard to bend and not break as the minutes ticked down.
At the same time, LAFC had some adversity themselves, with barely just 18 players coming into the game and only 17 on the gameday roster with Walker Zimmerman a very late injury scratch, forcing Dejan Jakovic to come in and start minutes before the match, alongside Laurent Ciman, himself coming off a preseason injury.
LAFC admittedly had a few bounces of the ball go their way, and Miller came up huge in goal to preserve a narrow lead and get a clean sheet against his old team. All in all, you could not ask for much more from LAFC in a debut game.
LAFC have the first game in the books out of the way. Their next match comes on Saturday afternoon against Real Salt Lake on the road.
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