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Flame Out: LAFC 0, Chicago Fire 0

LAFC play to their second tie in as many games.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club played the Chicago Fire to a 0-0 draw Saturday night at Banc of California Stadium. Coming into the game with a 5-0-0 home record, LAFC remained undefeated with a tough outing against a Chicago side that did not make the mistakes the black-and-gold usually like to capitalize on.

Match 11 began with very staggered gameplay as ten fouls were called within the first six minutes. Not until time got into the second digits did either team begin to form any scoring opportunities.

By the halfway point of the first half, LAFC had found three shots but the Fire found a chance in the 17th minute. Chicago’s Dax McCarty shot a high loose ball on the volley right at Tyler Miller that he calmly caught.

The following Black-and-Gold possession, Vela made a blistering run down the right side off a give-and-go with Steven Beitashour. Vela cross the ball back once he neared the goal line and Christian Ramirez one-timed a shot that was saved by Chicago goalkeeper David Ousted with a quick drop to the ground.

In the 25th minute, Beitashour received the game’s first yellow card for knocking Chicago’s Nicolas Gaitan down with an errant arm. Chicago’s Jorge Corrales was given a matching yellow seconds later after clipping Latif Blessing near the head with his foot.

LAFC created a corner kick in the 28th minute. The cross was deflected on goal by Jordan Harvey’s knee at the six-yard line and then deflected another four times by a crowd of red shirts before finally being cleared after another deflected shot from Ramirez.

After Chicago cleared away LAFC’s fourth corner and then a free kick in the 33rd minute, multiple Black-and-Gold defenders were beat in transition with quick pass combinations. By the time Chicago crossed midfield into Los Angeles territory, Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic was chasing down a bouncing ball with only Miller to beat. Nikolic whiffed on his first touch and Miller was able to calmly play the ball back into Chicago’s half.

The next development of note came in the 41st minute. After Vela made a long run with the ball cutting into the middle, Bastian Schweinsteiger bumped him to the ground and received Chicago’s second yellow card.

Los Angeles enjoyed a 66-34 possession advantage as well as a 10-2 shot advantage by halftime. Though the home team controlled most of the game, they went into the locker room with an unfamiliar 0-0 score. Chicago did not even earn its first corner kick until right before the whistle was blown to end the half.

LAFC was ready to change that just eight minutes into the second half. Kaye chipped in a pass and Beitashour found himself with only the keeper to beat after an overlapping run into the right side of the box. He tucked home the shot in the far corner, but was called offside.

The Fire went right back down the field and again Nikolic had the opportunity to take the lead. Nikolic was first to a low cross from Aleksander Katai that beat Miller but was unable to keep his one-timed sliding shot under the crossbar.

By the hour mark, Chicago had actually started to regain some control for themselves. They had brought down LAFC’s possession on the night down to 60 percent and managed to earn a third corner in 25 minutes.

Head coach Bob Bradley may have sensed this and made a change in the 64th minute putting Lee Nguyen in for Ramirez. Without a clear center forward, LAFC played the next ten minutes with extra movement throughout the front six.

Rossi curled in a cross towards the far post from the left side. Chicago let an unmarked Vela drift towards the pass but the ball skimmed off the top of his head and out for a goal kick after Vela extended to try and get on the end of it.

Now with just 15 minutes remaining, both teams were still looking for a goal and Adama Diomande was subbed on in place of Beitashour. Diomande took over the center forward position sending Vela back to the right wing. Blessing was moved again and took over the right back position that Beitashour left. Nguyen played left midfield and Kaye moved to the right, finally reorganizing a disconnected Black and Gold side.

Mohamed El-Munir also replaced Harvey at left back for LAFC’s third substitution in the 85th minute. Chicago’s Pryzemyslaw Frankowski received their third yellow card three minutes later for time-wasting.

Los Angeles enjoyed plenty of promising build-ups all throughout the game but just could not seem to create the last pass to lead to an open shot. Chicago’s back line remained stolid to the end and managed to claw its way through five minutes of extra time.

With two ties in their last two games, LAFC will travel to Columbus next weekend to hopefully restart the engine and continue the winning they started the season with.

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