Los Angeles Football Club went 13 games unbeaten to start life at Banc of California Stadium, but game 14 was the unlucky one, as they lost for the first time at their home, 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Bob Bradley made many changes to the lineup, after his team went 120 minutes on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup, and it showed. Andre Horta, Danilo Silva and Luis Lopez all had their first starts for the club, with the entire backline subbed out from the last game.
While the defense by and large held firm, they did open the door for Sporting’s first goal, where a change of pace gave Diego Rubio a chance to send a pass around the corner to Gerso Fernandes, who hit a quick strike to the far post to open the scoring in the 17th minute.
They doubled their lead in the 66th minute, as Dejan Jakovic was called for a penalty after kicking Felipe Gutierrez in the head on a challenge. It wasn’t a play intended to hurt Gutierrez, but it was endangering the safety of an opponent, and VAR confirmed the ruling. Ilie Sanchez stepped up and scored the penalty.
Even with the deficit, Bradley didn’t give up the ghost, bringing on Latif Blessing, Carlos Vela, and later, Christian Ramirez to try and jumpstart a moribund attack. LAFC didn’t really start to click in attack until around the 75 minute mark, but then they started pressuring Sporting’s defense. Horta nearly set up a goal, but his redirect pass across the goalmouth was narrowly missed by Ramirez’s diving header attempt, and it trickled wide.
But Tim Melia, Sporting’s defense and LAFC’s lack of attacking rhythm converged to ensure the hosts couldn’t break through, and they were shut out for just the second time at home.
The performance is disappointing, but in context it’s not altogether a major surprise. A team, coming off an emotional loss, after playing 120 minutes midweek, with the most rotated lineup of the season is bound to find some disjointed play. The defense was decent, not amazing, and the midfield and attack struggled mightily on the whole, and it was a disappointing result.
There isn’t much time to reflect on this, however, as LAFC will play again on Wednesday, as they host Real Salt Lake. The games are coming thick and fast — can LAFC keep pace in a very busy stretch?
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