Los Angeles Football Club came into Week 5 in first place in the Western Conference while San Jose contrarily held last place, still winless. LAFC left with their fourth win of the season after soundly defeating the Earthquakes 5-0 in San Jose, completing an undefeated March to start to the 2019 campaign (4-0-1).
LAFC sported the same 4-3-3 lineup as in their last game that brought a win over Real Salt Lake, but with Mark-Anthony Kaye back in at the right midfielder position after Andre Horta stepped in last week. The play between Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, Carlos Vela, and Steven Beitashour served as the powerhouse for Saturday’s win.
Kaye immediately affected the game with a pressing cross attempt down the left side that was blocked out for the game’s first corner in the 4th minute.
A minute later, Diego Rossi picked the ball off San Jose midfielder Judson just past the midfield circle and had nothing but San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega between him and the net. Three or four touches later, Rossi ripped a shot left that was deflected out for the second corner by the rushing Vega.
LAFC continued its 2019 trend of taking an aggressive approach in the early game. In the 8th minute, Vega whiffed trying to clear a bouncing ball rolling at him just outside the box. As Vega realized his mistake, Carlos Vela chased the ball down before taking his time placing in his fourth goal of the season.
LAFC again tested San Jose’s defense in the 13th minute. Kaye sent a thorn of a through-ball for Latif Blessing through the middle. Blessing’s run even beat the keeper as he flashed a quick hesitation before sending a soft cross across the six-yard box. It was blocked out for LAFC’s third corner.
Judson again gave up possession in his own half under pressure from Kaye in the 21st minute. Vela took the ball and streaked down the middle. Two San Jose defenders caught up, forcing Vela to pull back. He moved left and tried to get a shot on goal, but it was blocked out for the fourth corner.
LAFC was not able to convert any of their corner opportunities in the opening 25 minutes. San Jose began to create more chances for themselves in the latter stages of the first half, beginning with a 24th minute cross from the right side that was securely caught by goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
But as soon as LAFC felt pressure, they came right back with a chance of their own. In the 26th minute, Atuesta cut inside from about 10 yards outside the box. He had a shot opportunity if he wanted to take it, but instead poked a through-ball into the box at the last second that was received by the streaking Beitashour. Beitashour took an extra touch away from the defender that trailed him and forced Vega to make a move before he poked home LAFC’s second goal into the bottom left corner.
Miller hardly broke a sweat, as LAFC controlled the first half losing the possession battle 54-46, but pounding San Jose with 10 shots while only being threatened by one from the Earthquakes.
Despite an otherwise widely favorable first half for LAFC, Kaye did receive the game’s first booking with a yellow card in the 30th minute after believing he was fouled and grabbing the ball with his hands after hitting the ground.
Three minutes later, Christian Espinoza took down Latif Blessing just past midfield who was leading an LAFC counterattack for the game’s second booking. The following playmaking, which involved two Vela crosses, culminated with LAFC’s fifth corner.
For the next 14 minutes, back-and-forth play did not produce any memorable opportunities. But in the third minute of added time in the first half, Rossi received a headed pass from Adama Diomande down the left side. He took one touch before crossing a low pass across the six-yard box where Vela beat his defender to the ball, burying his second of the match and giving Los Angeles a comfortable 3-0 halftime lead. LAFC’s play clearly showed them to be the better team and would only have to stick to the game plan to see the win out through the second half.
San Jose came out aggressively in the first minute of the second half. They decided to make two substitutions during the break: Jackson Yueill in for Judson and Danny Hoesen in for Valeri Qazaishvilli, which immediately resulted in two threatening attacks for San Jose. Yueill sent a through-ball for fellow sub Hoesen before Hoesen ripped a shot from the right side over the goal and was called for offsides. Christian Espinoza found space from just outside the top of the box in the 48th minute and ripped a shot that was secured by a diving Miller.
Blessing and San Jose’s Anibal Godoy had been physical with each other in the midfield all game, each fouling the other. Finally, in the 53rd minute, Godoy threw down Blessing and was given the game’s third yellow card.
San Jose, certainly experiencing frustration through almost 60 minutes of what would be their fourth loss in four games this season, had their emotions boil over. After conceding two goals in their first loss, three goals in their second loss, and four goals in their third loss, it would only get worse for the Earthquakes. Harold Cummings received San Jose’s third yellow in the 55th minute after clipping Diomande very late in the midfield. A scuffle between Cummings and Atuesta gathered a small crowd of both team’s players before play ensued.
Nothing of note other than a close LAFC chance happened the next 10 minutes. In the 62nd minute, Diomande turned inside off a throw-in from the left sideline. He sent Rossi on a run down the left side, but went too deep down the side as he could not get his foot around the ball on the shot and missed wide left.
Then in the 66th minute, Carlos Vela got his hat trick. Some impressive close passing between Vela, Atuesta, and Beitashour on the right side of San Jose’s box resulted in Vela finding space on his favorite left side. He cut sharply back left and curled home LAFC’s fourth goal in the upper left corner.
In the following minute, Christian Ramirez came on for Diomande. Celebration was short-lived, however, as Rossi decided to get in on the fun as well. With a diagonal run from the left to right side outside San Jose’s box, Rossi ripped a low shot across his body that rolled into the bottom left corner to give LAFC a 5-0 lead with still more than twenty minutes to go.
In the 69th minute, as things began to cool down, Niko Hamalainen came on for Jordan Harvey to make his second MLS appearance, securing the back line.
Even with a 5-0 lead, LAFC clearly desired to keep up the pressure through to the final whistle. By the 74th minute, Head Coach Bob Bradley made his final substitution. Rookie Peter-Lee Vassell replaced Kaye, which meant Vela would remain for the rest of the game. Los Angeles enjoyed a 17-3 lead in shot attempts by this point.
In the 80th minute, Rossi found himself with just the keeper to beat again and again ripped a shot to his left, but this time low. Vega impressively dived and stuck his right hand out to securely pin the quick shot against the ground.
Surprisingly, San Jose created its first real threat of the game. In the 85th minute, Hoesen turned into the attacking third. About three touches later, carrying ahead with no direct pressure from LAFC, Hoesen ripped a curling shot toward the far right post. Miller, being tested for the first time, was quick to answer with a flying diving poke, sending the shot out for San Jose’s first corner.
Chris Wondolowski found the following low cross but blew the shot out of bounds. The 3252, who had loudly taken acoustic control of Avaya Stadium, chanted “Cinco, Cero” to the Earthquakes. Four extra minutes of extra time were announced, but LAFC’s biggest win in club history could not end fast enough for San Jose.
Finally, after Atuesta was attended to for an injury for about two minutes, Miller chased down a through ball with a diving effort inside the box right before Hoesen got a touch on it, and the referee blew the final whistle.
LAFC’s enjoyment of such a dominating victory should be short-lived as they will next face fellow unbeaten D.C. United in Washington D.C. next Saturday to begin April.
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