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Running Wild: LAFC 4, Orlando City 1

LAFC rebounded from a disappointing draw with an emphatic win.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club rebounded from their draw with the Houston Dynamo and resumed their hot home form, beating Orlando City SC 4-1 at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday.

LAFC started having to sustain some pressure from Orlando, reeling on their back feet and having to deal with attacking threats from Dom Dwyer, Josue Colman, and Sacha Kljestan. The initial pressure lasted about 20 minutes, before Orlando’s Jonathan Spector went down with an injury and had to be replaced by Chris Schuler.

Just minutes after Spector came off, Diomande cut in behind the defense, partially thanks to the help of Latif Blessing. Unfortunately for Dio, even though he put the ball in the back of the net, he was flagged offside.

A couple minutes later, Dio continued his red-hot form since his arrival in Major League Soccer and put his eighth goal in the back of the net. Latif Blessing connected with a cross from Steven Beitashour, but his header was saved by Joe Bendik. Blessing then got to the rebound and sent the ball back into the center of the box, but Amro Tarek’s clearance went right to Mark-Anthony Kaye, who slotted the ball right in front of him to a waiting Diomande.

It only took three more minutes for Latif Blessing to double LAFC’s lead. Lee Nguyen fed the ball to Kaye from around the midfield, and Kaye slotted the ball into the box to an open Aaron Kovar. Kovar then sent the ball to a streaking Blessing, who had gotten behind RJ Allen on the left wing. Blessing then was able to put the ball into the near corner, and there was nothing Bendik could do but watch.

LAFC did have a scare in the first half, as Dom Dwyer got the ball from Kljestan as he got behind Walker Zimmerman and Laurent Ciman. Dwyer was one-on-one with Tyler Miller, and Miller closed down his angles and went to the ground to save the shot and keep Orlando off the score sheet.

Diomande was close to adding yet another goal for LAFC in the second half when Kaye shot the ball at Bendik, who fumbled the ball as he went to the ground. Diomande poached the chance as the ball rolled next to Bendik, but was ruled offside by a silent VAR check.

Orlando was able to get one back around the hour mark thanks to Kljestan. Donny Toia sent a ball upfield to Kljestan, and when he got the ball, Zimmerman slipped on the pitch as he tried to turn to defend. Kljestan was then unmarked and, while Ciman tried to close him down, he was able to shoot into the far corner to end Orlando’s scoreless run.

LAFC experienced another scare and flashbacks of the game against Houston in the 72nd minute, when Justin Meram got the ball on the wing and took it into the box, drawing out Tyler Miller. He then crossed the ball backwards to Dwyer, who put the ball in the back of the net despite being covered by two players. Video Assistant Refereeing struck back, however, as Meram was ruled offside on review, by what must have been the slimmest of margins.

Diomande finally got his double in the 82nd minute, when he finished a chance in the box just feet away from the goal line. As a corner was whipped into the box, Ciman headed the ball towards goal, and while Bendik got an arm to it and Meram tried to head it clear, Dio was right there to finish with a bicycle kick that just barely went over the line.

Two minutes later, Diego Rossi, who entered the game in the 64th minute for Kovar, locked up a win for LAFC with a goal on a fast break. Diomande took the ball from Amro Tarek, and gave it right to Blessing, who had a whole lot of grass in front of him. Blessing drew Bendik out as he dribbled into the box before gliding the ball to an wide-open Rossi.

In addition to the smooth attack of LAFC that shone against Orlando, Tyler Miller deserves major props for making eight saves in the match, several of them one-on-one and in crucial situations. Also making his return to the team was Carlos Vela, home from the World Cup with the Mexican National Team.

LAFC now jump to second place in the tight Western Conference with 34 points. Sporting Kansas City drew in their match with Toronto FC, which means they are in third place with 33 points. Ahead of LAFC is FC Dallas, who lost to Real Salt Lake, with 35 points. The Black-and-Gold will be back in action on Sunday, in the first of two matches against the Portland Timbers (the other being three days later in the U.S. Open Cup).

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