Los Angeles Football Club’s record-setting season came to a rough ending Tuesday night by way of a 3-1 home loss to Seattle Sounders FC, the first loss LAFC ever suffered to Seattle. Eduard Atuesta gave LAFC the early lead, but Seattle’s physicality, energy, and persistence prevailed to make them the team to come out of the Western Conference.
In the 16th minute, Carlos Vela magnificently dribbled through five defenders and eventually got tripped up after Maradona-ing around the last, drawing a foul from about 35-yards out. Vela and Atuesta tee’d up the free kick on either side of the ball.
Everybody in the stadium knows Vela is the premier goal-scoring force in the league, but instead of taking the shot, he feigned his run up as Atuesta struck it from the left side and curled it over the wall and inside the near left post for the opening goal.
Seattle was undeterred by the early deficit, however, as they struck back in the 22nd minute. Raul Ruidiaz received the ball and with his first touch turned past Eddie Segura with only Tyler Miller to beat. Before Zimmerman could chase him down, Ruidiaz ripped a shot inside the near post to tie it up.
And then just four minutes later, the Sounders took the lead. A totally unmarked Nicolas Lodeiro received the ball just outside the top of the box and took his time slotting home a grounded shot inside the right post.
Latif Blessing went down with a groin injury just before halftime and Mark-Anthony Kaye came on to replace him and make his return. In the 53rd minute, still down a goal, Adama Diomande replaced Brian Rodriguez.
Much like Lodeiro’s goal in the first half, Ruidiaz found himself unmarked at the top of the box in the 64th minute. But this time, it was Lodeiro who fed him the ball across the middle and before Segura could close the distance, Ruidiaz ripped a shot inside the left post to double Seattle’s lead, 3-1.
Statistically, LAFC had been the better team, controlling 66 percent of possession by that point and forcing six corner kicks for themselves, but Sounders FC clearly were the better team at making the most of their opportunity.
Like Bob Bradley commented at halftime, Seattle had clogged the middle, forcing LAFC to create most of their looks from the outside. But most of Los Angeles’ chances that were produced from the wing ended with a cross to nobody with no more than one target in the box.
It should be stated that there were at least three instances throughout the game where a Seattle player’s outstretched arm hit the ball, though unintentionally. The first two occurred before Sounders FC scored its third goal, so a penalty for LAFC would have certainly given them the opportunity to change this game. None of them were called as penalties with a live whistle, nor were they even retroactively reviewed with VAR.
Desperate for a stronger attack still down two goals, Adrien Perez replaced Lee Nguyen in the 77th minute as LAFC’s final sub.
It proved not to be enough, as Seattle ran away with a Western Conference victory through their physicality and ability to capitalize on limited opportunities. Just as LAFC experienced their first victory over the Galaxy last week, Sounders FC had earned its first win over LAFC.
LAFC set the MLS record in goals scored and points won. Captain Carlos Vela set the record in points scored and goals scored. And though this season did not end how Los Angeles had hoped with an MLS Cup, it is not a season that will be forgotten.
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