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On to the Round of 16: LAFC 2, Fresno FC 0

LAFC take their first ever win in the U.S. Open Cup.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Los Angeles FC vs Fresno Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club broke through in the second half to win their first-ever U.S. Open Cup match against Fresno FC, with Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing leading the way to a 2-0 win at Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday.

LAFC took a bit of time to really get into the game and deal with Fresno’s press. As soon as LAFC got past the midfield, Fresno was able to press them and force some turnovers and bad passes, which led to some frantic defense at times from the black-and-gold.

The tides started to turn in the favor of LAFC around the 27th minute, where Bob Bradley’s men had about 90 seconds of onslaught on Fresno’s goal, with chances from Calum Mallace and Walker Zimmerman that came very close. However, although LAFC were able to earn the lion’s share of possession, the first half ended in a stalemate, but not before Adama Diomande had to leave the game in extra time after a blow to the head.

The second half featured Diego Rossi coming in for the injured Diomande, and LAFC picked up where they left off, holding the majority of the ball. LAFC broke the deadlock around the 53nd minute, when Dejan Jakovic got his head on an in-swinging corner kick inside the six-yard box, and Diego Rossi was able to put his foot on the ball to make sure it got past Fresno goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.

Only four minutes later, Lee Nguyen sent a ball to Mallace in the box, and although his shot in the box was deflected, Latif Blessing was able to recover the ball and slot it home, doubling LAFC’s lead and taking advantage of some open defending by Fresno.

From there, LAFC had to deal with Fresno pushing all their forces forward. The Black-and-Gold still finished with just under 70 percent possession, and led in every statistical category, except for “negative” or defensive categories of offside, fouls, cards, tackles and clearances. Bob Bradley also was able to rest a number of usual starters, with Rossi only playing the second half, Mark-Anthony Kaye coming in for about 15 minutes, and Steven Beitashour and Benny Feilhaber getting some rest. The game also served as valuable playing time for Nguyen and Diomande, who continue to get up to speed and polished in the system, and Aaron Kovar, Tristan Blackmon, and Dejan Jakovic, who will see more action as the World Cup goes on.

This win puts LAFC into the Round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup, where they join Louisville City, Philadelphia Union, D.C. United, Chicago Fire, Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City, Minnesota United, FC Dallas, Nashville SC, Houston Dynamo, and Sporting Kansas City, with a couple games still to end. The Round of 16 draw is on Thursday, and the match will take place on June 20.

Next up for LAFC is their first match against the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS at Avaya Stadium.

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