In the 24th minute of Los Angeles Football Club’s game against the Montreal Impact, defender Laurent Ciman was one of the players who stepped up to measure up a free kick beyond the Impact’s 18-yard box.
It was a surprise, as Ciman was not known for his set-piece prowess in MLS. In 90 MLS regular season games before Saturday, he had only scored two goals, both of those coming in 2015.
But step up he did, and Ciman made it count, burying the direct free kick against his old side and celebrating heartily in the stadium he used to call home with his current team.
“I thought about my wife and my kids. I had the chance to score on this free kick. Sometimes, you take risks and it pays off,” Ciman told reporters following the game.
“I’m very happy for Laurent Ciman. It was an emotional moment for him to come back in Montreal and all his teammates knew how important it was for him. We love what he brings to our team and we’re very proud today,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said after the 5-3 comeback win.
Early in the match, it didn’t look like it would turn out to be a happy day for Ciman and the visitors. Ignacio Piatti put the Impact ahead 2-0 by the 16th minute, and ended up scoring a hat trick in the first half to put the home side ahead 3-1 at the break. LAFC had a penalty saved before halftime, and between the defensive struggles and attack just not seeming to be in full sharpness, it looked like Ciman’s free kick goal would be a nice footnote to a loss.
Instead, the tables were turned. Things were helped with Impact defender Victor Cabrera picking up a red card on the play that led to the saved penalty, and in the second half, LAFC regrouped and scored four unanswered goals to flip the result, instead relegating Piatti’s hat trick to a footnote on the day.
“I think Laurent [did] a really good job here, and the people really like him. In LAFC, it’s the same thing. We love this guy, and I hope he stays with us for a long time,” said forward Carlos Vela.
Ciman, who was given an ovation prior to the match by the Stade Saputo crowd, reflected on the day and admitted that while he’s moved on and is happy with LAFC, he still misses Montreal.
“Before the game, during the game, after the game, the supporters were good to me,” he said. “I want to thank them. Montreal will remain in my heart, but now, we move forward with the decisions that were taken. I am very happy in Los Angeles, with a technical staff that is behind me.”
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