Los Angeles Football Club won their third match in the past four games on Saturday night, dominating, for the most part, in a win over the defending MLS Cup Champions, Toronto FC. LAFC emerged from BMO Field with a 4-2 victory over the Canadian side and continued their unbeaten run to jump to second in the Western Conference.
The action got started early for both sides as Sebastian Giovinco got a solid chance on goal in the 15th minute, and almost put himself on the SportsCenter highlight reel with a bicycle kick. Gregory Van Der Wiel slotted the ball to Giovinco at the top of the box, who lifted it into the air with his first touch. He then attempted a bicycle kick, which forced Tyler Miller into action to prevent an early goal and keep the scoresheet clean.
LAFC got their night started the right way in the 23rd, when Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela both played a part in jumping ahead. Rossi received the ball around the middle of Toronto’s half, and took a shot outside the top of the box on goal. The ball deflected off both Justin Morrow and off the arm of Vela, and dribbled into the right side of Clint Irwin’s goal. Despite claims of a handball from TFC, the goal was allowed and given to Vela, and LAFC took a lead that they never gave up.
Marco Ureña almost doubled the lead for the Black-and-Gold in the 38th minute, when he found himself one-on-one with Irwin on a breakaway. The Costa Rican striker timed his run perfectly and split between the Toronto defenders, and received the ball from Vela with only Irwin to beat. Unfortunately, Ureña appeared to be caught between two minds, of whether to pass or shoot, and tried to pass the ball past Irwin into goal to no avail. The ball went out for no more than a corner, and LAFC’s lead remained at 1-0.
Morrow almost tied the game up for the Canadian side in the 42nd minute, when he got the ball making a run on the left side of the pitch in the box. His shot went right onto the hands of Tyler Miller, though, and caused no harm beyond a scare for LAFC.
Diego Rossi got involved once again in a goal for LAFC just on the other side of halftime, doubling the Black-and-Gold’s lead in emphatic fashion. Rossi got the ball from Vela (who else?) after running behind the Toronto defense, and let the ball bounce once before taking a half volley from just inside the box, across the goal and into the back of the net. There was not a lot Irwin could have done about it after the defense was not able to close Rossi down, and LAFC stood with a 2-0 lead.
Carlos Vela got in on the action just minutes later to help boost LAFC once again. In the 49th minute, Vela made his way past both Michael Bradley and Morrow on the right side of the pitch to get into the box. Once he approached the six-yard box, Vela passed the ball back to an oncoming Lee Nguyen, who calmly put the ball into the far corner to make LAFC’s lead 3-0.
If there was one play that encapsulated the night that Toronto FC had, it was Giovinco’s shot in the 52nd minute. Giovinco was unmarked in the center of the box running towards Tyler Miller, but his shot went far left, and the Italian immediately put his hands on his head.
Toronto was able to get one goal back in the 74th minute, however, to add some intrigue to a match that LAFC had dominated. Giovinco had plenty of room in LAFC’s half and found Jozy Altidore as he cut in behind Dejan Jakovic, and put the ball right past Miller for Toronto’s first goal of the night, and first since their win against Montreal. With that, and the ensuing shot from Sebastian Giovinco in the smoke from Toronto’s celebrations that hit the post and went out, LAFC’s lead was down to two at 3-1.
Toronto was not done there, though, as the formidable duo of Altidore and Giovinco combined yet again in the 93rd to grab a second for Toronto and put the pressure on LAFC. Bradley slotted the ball to Altidore in the middle of LAFC’s half, who then passed forward to Giovinco. He then passed forward to Lucas Janson, who gave the ball right up to Altidore, who pounded the ball off the crossbar and into the net. LAFC found themselves in added time with their lead collapsing before them, now leading just 3-2.
The reassuring goal for LAFC, and the nail in the coffin for Toronto, came just a minute later, when Vela put a ball into the back of the net with a shot from almost the end-line. Benny Feilhaber took the ball off a Toronto giveaway and put the ball forward for Vela, who drove into the box. Just a yard or two from the touchline, he shot at Irwin’s goal, bouncing the shot off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net. That restored LAFC’s cushion in the dying moments of the match, and secured three points for the Black-and-Gold.
In addition, this meant that Carlos Vela was involved in all four of LAFC’s goals: the first deflected off him and went in; he found Rossi for the second; he assisted Nguyen for the third; and made something out of nothing for the fourth. With this win, LAFC jump above Sporting Kansas City, who just lost to Seattle Sounders, into second place in the Western Conference with 46 points. FC Dallas also won, against Houston, so they lead LAFC at the top of the West by three points. LAFC’s next match is at home against the New England Revolution, with just seven matches remaining in the regular season.
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