Who was this guy?
Turned out, Diomande was coming off a tumultuous run at Hull City in the English Championship and Premier League. The Norwegian international, however, had been a player for LAFC head coach Bob Bradley at Stabaek, and had hit 17 goals in 21 games there.
Would he be able to find that mojo in MLS, especially after skipping preseason with his new team?
So far, the signs are promising, as Diomande has scored three goals in his last two games, and is coming off a brace in a wild 4-3 road win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. All goals in that kind of game are vital, but Diomande hit equalizers on two separate occasions to keep hope alive for LAFC.
After getting his paperwork cleared and getting up to fitness, Diomande is showing what he can do. The good news for LAFC is that it may be just the beginning for the 28-year-old.
“Dio scored two goals tonight, so he’s still a player that has a really good idea of how to get in spots that count,” Bradley told reporters following the match. “But in terms of sharpness and balance and how he controls certain balls and goes by people, that was not the best Dio by a long shot. So it’s also part where we will continue to push him and if he can continue to score goals playing on a night like that, then there’s a lot of good things that are still ahead.”
Diomande essentially agreed that he can do even more for the expansion side.
“I have a lot of work to do,” he said. “Hopefully by the next week I will be better, with my teammates, of course. I have a lot of work to do, like I’m talking with Bob [Bradley] and all my teammates, so I’ll just keep going.”
Maybe it’s a good sign that when talking about his goals, Diomande was pretty calm in explaining what had happened in what was initially an inexplicable game.
“Just team goals. First goal, rebound from the keeper I think. The defender had to get back and I just put it in. The second one, the great free kick at the back post, Walker [Zimmerman] put it in and again I just read the pass back and just touched it in.”
LAFC’s attack had sputtered in recent weeks, after Marco Ureña’s face was broken in the first home game against the Seattle Sounders on April 29. While Ureña has not gotten off the mark this season, his link-up play had been tremendous and his positioning had clearly unlocked the likes of Diego Rossi, Latif Blessing and made things easier for star Carlos Vela.
With Diomande getting into form, Ureña may have a true battle on his hands to get back into the lineup after returning from the World Cup.
As for the wild win itself, Joao Moutinho, who scored the winning goal in the 97th minute, lauded LAFC’s mentality to stay in the game even after going down two separate times to the Quakes.
“That happened twice in the game but I think the team has a very strong mentality. I think we’re very cohesive and we talk to each other and we get through hard moments through talking to each other. So I think we did well and we showed everyone that we’re a very good team and a strong team,” Moutinho said.
Bradley, speaking in the immediate aftermath, appeared to be a little bit dazed, just like the rest of us watching.
“Some nights are just crazy. You want the football to be great all the time and tonight it sure wasn’t. But it’s so great to see a bunch of guys keep going and Joao [Moutinho] has had some ups and downs, but he’s a young player that we think highly of, and to see him score and get a winner is fantastic.
“Every one of the players came in with a big smile but also saying, ‘Man, we were terrible.’ We know that football-wise tonight our passes weren’t good, we slipped on the field so much, there were a lot of things that we know weren’t what we’re all about. Sometimes the game just gets away from you and I guess it was one of those nights.”
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