Now through the first two months and ten matches of the season, Los Angeles Football Club still sits atop the Western Conference with 23 points and a record of 7-1-2 after finishing Sunday’s rematch against Seattle Sounders FC with a 1-1 draw.
Just one week removed from a 4-1 stomping over Seattle at the Banc, LAFC faced the same team for the second time in as many weeks, making only one change to the lineup. Tristan Blackmon saw his first action of 2019 with a start at right back in place of Steven Beitashour who is dealing with knee soreness.
The action started quickly as after just 46 seconds, Seattle’s Jordan Morris found himself with only the goalie to beat on the right side of the box after a poor back pass.
After a crowd of players fought for control over a loose ball midfield that fell back to the feet of a retreating Eddie Segura, Segura played the ball back towards center back Walker Zimmerman unaware that Morris was sprinting to cut that pass off.
Morris intercepted the pass and calmly placed home Seattle’s second-fastest goal in franchise history in the bottom left corner. This gave Seattle the 1-0 head start, starkly contrasting last week’s meeting between the two teams.
Then, just three minutes later, Diego Rossi chased down a long ball down the left side, beating Seattle’s back line. Carlos Vela ran with Rossi on the opposite side of the field, putting himself in position for a cross. Rossi took a few touches more towards the middle and sent a cross along the ground that got passed Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Vela collapsed on the six-yard box to tap in the 4th minute equalizer and his league-leading 11th goal on the season.
Seattle’s Kim Kee-hee was given the game’s first yellow card in the 11th minute after clipping Christian Ramirez well after Ramirez had passed the ball.
In the 17th minute, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Seattle’s Christian Roldan started a bit of a shoving match after a whistle that ended with Eduard Atuesta on the ground after he took an inadvertent swipe to the face by Roldan. After two minutes of cooling things down and sorting a chaotic scene out, the referee sent Roldan off with a red card and stuck Kaye with a yellow.
With Seattle down to 10 men, LAFC enjoyed an overbearing 75-25 advantage by the 30th minute and had tried six shots to Seattle’s two. Seattle also struggled to defend the quick attacks of Los Angeles, having committed eight fouls to LAFC’s one at this point.
Seattle finally found themselves with another opportunity on the fast break in the 42nd minute. But before Seattle could get a chance to find a shot, Blackmon came across to take down Seattle’s Brad Smith and received LAFC’s second yellow of the match.
Perhaps learning from how last week ended, Seattle actually did pretty well to stifle LAFC’s attack the rest of the half, going into the locker room tied at one. Losing a player seemed to make the Sounders focus even more on defense.
LAFC took advantage of the halftime break, subbing on Lee Nguyen for Blackmon. Nguyen returned to play for the first time since the second match of the season.
Just three minutes into the second half, an eerily similar play developed for LAFC down the right side. Latif Blessing sent a low ball cross the ground to a streaking Ramirez, much like how Vela and Rossi had connected to tie the game earlier. Ramirez, with an open net in front of him, slid to tap the pass home but instead lifted it over the crossbar for a goal kick.
#LAFC are best in #MLS, and they've cut down on self-inflicted errors of last season, but they're still their own worst enemy. Terrible mistake to gift Seattle the opening goal, then very wasteful finishing. Ramirez and the team will be haunted by his shocking miss.#SEAvLAFC pic.twitter.com/EK2CoGcnR9— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) April 28, 2019
The first 25 minutes of the half saw LAFC dominate with aggression. The ball seemed to spend most of its time either inside or just outside Seattle’s box. But without another goal to separate the two teams, each made a substitution at the 70th minute mark.
For LAFC, Mohamed El-Munir came on to replace Jordan Harvey at left back. Seven minutes later, head coach Bob Bradley used his final substitution to replace Ramirez again with Adrian Perez. Ramirez, like that chance to start the second half, had been just a tad off or late on the end of many scoring opportunities and could have had two or three goals on the day if the timing had been in his favor.
In the 75th minute, Seattle found its most dangerous scoring opportunity since the first minute. Lodeiro ripped a shot from outside the right side of the box. Tyler Miller stretched to get a finger tip on the line drive to send it just over the crossbar for a corner.
Miller again answered the call in the 82nd minute. Seattle’s big Roman Torres headed a shot off a left side corner kick towards the far post. It took one bounce and looked like it might sneak past Miller before he dove to poke it out for Seattle’s fifth corner of the game.
With under ten minutes remaining, LAFC still enjoyed a 73-27 possession and 18-4 shot advantage. The Black-and-Gold controlled most of the second half and were able to create opportunities but Seattle continued to keep their goal sealed.
Both teams came strong in extra time with a final push for each of them. Morris had beaten two of LAFC’s defenders down the left side. Having juked past a charging Miller, Morris had an open net in front of him before trailing LAFC defenders finally made it back to deflect the chance. After a few more scraps for the loose ball, LAFC suddenly found themselves on a fast break.
It ended with Rossi chasing down a long ball with Seattle’s Kelvin Leerdam and Leerdam taking down Rossi just outside the box two minutes into extra time. After a VAR review, Leerdam was given Seattle’s second red card, forcing the Sounders to finish nine versus eleven.
Play was finally resumed in the seventh minute of extra time when Vela stepped up to take the set strike but sent it over the crossbar.
LAFC went home again without taking a loss with them, but certainly missed many opportunities that could have given them a comfortable win. The Black-and-Gold will return to the Banc next week to host the Chicago Fire in their first match of May.
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