While the going was rough for LAFC — “...maybe it’s a day where at the end, where we need to be sharper on a few more plays, we weren’t quite good enough,” said head coach Bob Bradley — there was one notable highlight reel play, an audacious left-footed curler from Carlos Vela.
When asked about the goal after the game, which made the game 1-1 and looked as though it would help LAFC pull through the match with a point, Vela was mostly nonchalant, although he had a wry smile on his face as he answered.
“When I received the ball, I control and said, if I shoot there it’s a goal for sure,” he told reporters after the game. “I believed a lot in that shot and I feel like, when I have a chance and have the time to prepare my body, then I would score a lot of times. So I was happy with that shot and I hope I can continue scoring more goals for the team.”
In spite of the golazo, LAFC gave up another highlight-reel goal a few minutes later themselves, as substitute Samuel Armenteros dribbled upfield past a slew of defenders from behind the center line, before cutting inside on his left foot from the edge of the box and blasting it into the net. Armenteros is the latest player to score his debut goal against LAFC to help win a game, and is in fact the second Swede that’s done that to the expansion side.
While it’s only three losses on the season out of 11 games, it leaves LAFC with some aspects of their performance to reflect on ahead of coming games.
“It’s a physical game in terms of finding some fluidity, moving the ball faster,” Bradley said after the game. “I just said at halftime that I think we that we’re not getting the ball quickly to the right player where an advantage can push forward to the goal. Portland, I recall their block of seven, their four defenders and then the way those three defenders are dropped in, they’re very compact.
“So your ability to get through their [defense] is challenged and if you’re not good at it then that’s where they’re able to turn some of your misplays to counters because [Sebastian] Blanco and [Diego] Valeri are some of the first options as the ball comes loose and then [Fanendo] Adi is still higher on the field occupying defenders, so that’s the way they’ve gone about things that in this last stretch has worked so well for them.”
And while Bradley did not want to address his argument with Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese after the final whistle — the FOX broadcast showed Bradley yelling at Savarese (it’s unclear what exactly he was yelling about) while the Venezuelan, who played under Bradley at the MetroStars back in the day, appeared to try to calm the LAFC boss down — Bradley issued a “No comment” on the interaction after the match before saying simply “I’ve known Gio a long time,” it was evident that he had his dander up about the game in general.
But with Vela and several other players set to go on international duty, as soon as this week, Bradley noted that opportunities will open up for other LAFC players to show what they can do in game action in the coming weeks.
“We have other guys who train every day and understand what we want our football to be about and they are going to get some chances,” he said.
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