Los Angeles fought hard but went down in the Western Conference Finals, 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday. Here’s what we thought about the game.
LAFC go in front on great free kick by Eduard Atuesta
On Monday, Eduard Atuesta was named in the the MLS Best XI of the season, a great honor for the young star midfielder. He showed off just a small part of his game with a sensational free kick goal to open the scoring.
You would have thought Carlos Vela would take the kick, and maybe that’s what Stefan Frei thought. But Atuesta curled it in beautifully, and LAFC took a 1-0 lead.
Defensive breakdowns in the first half
LAFC looked like they would push on and score more, but instead Seattle clawed back into the game. Raul Ruidiaz eluded Eddie Segura at the top of the box and then fired in an equalizer in the 22nd minute.
Then just three minutes later, despite LAFC having a lot of numbers in the box, no one closed down Nico Lodeiro and he fired a perfect strike in the bottom corner just past a diving Tyler Miller.
The first goal was somewhat understandable, Seattle was on a counter, Eddie Segura got a bit unlucky with how the ball bounced, and Ruidiaz had a good finish.
But the second goal was inexcusable. LAFC could have fouled in the middle of the field to stop the counter, but even so, there were plenty of black-and-gold shirts in the box. But no one challenged Lodeiro and he was able to squeeze a ball into the corner to flip a game that LAFC had started off on the front foot.
Blessing goes down
Latif Blessing has been one of the many bright spots of season for LAFC. You could argue he’s the most unique player in the league, and he brought something truly special to LAFC’s midfield. Blessing was able to drive forward and find his usual space in the first half, despite LAFC not scoring besides the free kick. Unfortunately, Blessing went down with an injury at the end of the first half and could not continue. Who knows how things play out if Latif does not get hurt, but you’d like to think he would’ve created a few more chances for LAFC.
Potential handballs go uncalled
The referee for this match made it clear early on that he was going to let the teams play, and it was certainly a physical match with quite a few challenges that could have been called fouls in other games let go here. The same went for a few potential handballs in the box, as Seattle had two of those in particular in the second half that certainly could have been penalties. The ref was not interested though, and VAR determined none of those was a clear and obvious error. We’re left to grasp at “what ifs” in this game, but if one or both of those handballs are called penalties, it could have been a completely different game for LAFC.
Attack grinds to a halt
Credit the Sounders for a great performance, but LAFC’s explosive offense that we’ve seen all year did not manifest in this game. After such a good showing last week, Diego Rossi was at times invisible in this game. He was a little better in the second half, but certainly not able to impose himself at all on this game.
Carlos Vela was also held in check, frequently double-teamed and unable to behind Seattle’s defense and into dangerous positions. Brian Rodriguez was able to get into good positions at times, but didn’t have the final product.
Adama Diomande just didn’t have the same impact off the bench as he did last game.
LAFC made some defensive mistakes again this game, as they did against the Galaxy, and as they have at times through their two years in the league.
Unfortunately, and at the worst possible time, their offense was not able to pick up the slack as they so often have.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!