Los Angeles Football Club tied FC Dallas 1-1 in Sunday’s rematch of LAFC’s 2-0 win on Thursday. Carlos Vela’s late goal on his second penalty attempt of the game prevented the black-and-gold from going home empty-handed.
The opening 25 minutes of the game was plenty of back-and-forth play, each team trying to control the pace. Dallas’ Bryan Acosta was shown a yellow card for a bad foul against Carlos Vela. Surprisingly, Dallas came out as the faster team. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Los Angeles struggled to create their usual many scoring chances early on with the new lineup look.
Playing their third game in eight days, LAFC came out with a lineup new to this season. With Eduard Atuesta listed as questionable with knee soreness, Mark-Anthony Kaye slid into the middle midfielder position. Andre Horta and Lee Nguyen also started at left and right midfield, respectively, in place of the normal Kaye and Latif Blessing.
Blessing was moved up to the right forward position. This moved the right forward regular Vela to center forward in place of the resting Christian Ramirez. Mohamed El-Munir also made his first start of the season at left back to give Jordan Harvey a rest. El-Munir ended up playing the full 90 minutes and actually put in a solid performance in the back and on the wing.
LAFC worked especially hard to earn the win over FCD on Thursday, so it comes as no surprise that head coach Bob Bradley chose to rest some of his veterans.
But in the 29th minute, Dallas made sure to start Sunday’s game differently. FCD’s Dominique Badji made a blistering run down the left side and sent a grounded cross towards the penalty spot. After the ball skipped past three trailing LAFC players, Ryan Hollingshead buried the shot in the bottom right corner past Tyler Miller to put Dallas up 1-0.
Right back Steven Beitashour pulled up gimpy, holding his left hamstring after trying to keep up with Badji’s run. He dropped to the ground in pain and was shortly thereafter replaced by Josh Perez in the 32nd minute.
LAFC tried to come back quickly in the 35th minute. Dallas defender Bressan was whistled for a handball just outside his own box and was shown the game’s second yellow. Carlos Vela stepped up and struck a curling shot towards the upper left corner, but Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was able to jump in time to bump the ball aside with two hands.
The next chance of notice would come seven minutes later when Josh Perez cut back on the right side of the box and sent a pass towards Vela, who was cutting towards the penalty spot. Vela was taken down from behind by Dallas defender Bressan and was awarded a penalty shot.
After a quick VAR check, Vela shot at the bottom left corner, but Gonzalez dove parallel to the ground, fully extended, and denied Vela of a perfectly placed goal with his fingertips for the second time on the day.
LAFC went into the half with a deficit for just the third time this season. The first came in the season opener in Los Angeles hosting Sporting Kansas City. LAFC came back with two second half goals to win that game. The other time, when LAFC visited Vancouver in April, the Whitecaps took a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute and no other goals were scored.
Dallas edged out the first half possession battle with a 51-49 advantage. Though Dallas enjoyed a 1-0 lead at half, they were only able to get off three shots to LAFC’s eight. Closer to the end of the half, it seemed Los Angeles began to create more and more chances than FCD.
Starting with the ball at kickoff, LAFC started the second half with a higher level of pressure. Gang defense forced a turnover at midfield in the 46th minute, and Josh Perez was given a pass on the run. He was taken down from behind by Reto Ziegler, who was awarded Dallas’ third yellow.
Just three minutes later, Dallas would be down to ten men. Vela was sent a ball down the left side. Dallas center back Matt Hedges chased the ball down, but Vela got a touch first. Hedges whiffed on his touch attempt and ended up hacking Vela down just outside the 18-yard box. Hedges was immediately shown a red card as he was Dallas’ last defender between Vela and Gonzalez.
Nguyen, not Vela as the free kick was on his weaker side, took the shot but sent it a bit over the crossbar.
In the 55th minute, Nguyen then earned LAFC’s first yellow after taking down Dallas’ Pablo Aranguiz with a crunching tackle.
Before play was resumed, Aranguiz was subbed off, and LAFC sent on Adama Diomande to replace Nguyen. Diomande took over the center forward position from Vela, sending Vela back outside. This moved Blessing from right forward to right back, which then forced Josh Perez to move up from right back to right midfield. Horta was sent to left midfield.
LAFC was quickly shown a second card when Miller came off his line in the 59th minute. Jesus Ferreira was sent on a long run from midfield. Miller came out about 15 yards past the 18-yard line, but instead of safely clearing the ball, he tried to handle it and turn away from the speeding Ferreira. Ferreira was able to stick a foot in and deflect Miller’s pass. Now with Ferreira bodying Miller off the ball, Miller had no choice but to hook Ferreira around his left shoulder and pull him away from the ball, earning his yellow.
In the 70th minute, LAFC missed a golden opportunity to equalize. Vela gave a little through ball from outside the box towards Diomande. Diomande, unmarked, took one touch to his right at the penalty spot. With the shot tee’d up at point blank range, Diomande flubbed the shot and meekly bounced out harmlessly.
Two minutes later, LAFC finally beat Gonzalez on a shot, but this time got denied by the woodwork. Diego Rossi, who had so far had an uncommonly quiet game, took a shot from outside the box that curled towards the upper right corner before being sent back by the crossbar.
Perhaps trying to capitalize on his team’s recent sense of urgency, head coach Bob Bradley used his final substitution to put on a second striker in Christian Ramirez to replace Andre Horta in the 76th minute. LAFC would finish the game having controlled 58 percent of possession and 17 shots to Dallas’s nine.
Despite nearly 80 minutes of shutout defense by FC Dallas, LAFC kept up the pressure and caused Bressan to block a Ramirez shot with his hand in the box. Vela tee’d up the penalty for the second time today, took a slower run up than the first attempt, and shot inside the right post. Gonzalez dove right, correctly picking Vela’s side for the second time in as many attempts, but this time could not get both hands on the ball. Vela’s 14th goal on the year tied things up at one goal with ten minutes to go.
In the 86th minute, Rossi sent a low ball across FCD’s box and Diomande redirected it in the goal unmarked, much like Hollinshead’s opening goal. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the goal was disallowed as Diomande was flagged offsides. After a short stoppage, the referee received confirmation for the call.
Five minutes of extra time was just that: five minutes with no new developments. Tough it was a performance that was probably more frustrating for Los Angeles than not, LAFC should not go home feeling good, but they also should not go home feeling like they missed an opportunity. Sunday’s match brought numerous obstacles that Thursday did not, like a new lineup, multiple lineups that morphed the lineup throughout the game, and a Dallas side that took the role of the aggressor.
LAFC will head back home to face the Montreal Impact Friday night.
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