Los Angeles Football Club suffered its first loss of the season with a 1-0 finish in Vancouver back on April 17th after starting the 2019 campaign undefeated. Though Whitecaps wasted no time emulating their previous performance by scoring a goal within the first five minutes Saturday night, LAFC overwhelmingly responded with five goals from four different scorers for a 6-1 win at Banc of California Stadium.
Captain Carlos Vela won a free kick on the left side just outside the top of the box in the third minute. He promptly took a curling shot towards the near upper corner, but it was safely secured by Vancouver keeper Maxime Crepeau.
Vancouver took this possession and sent a long, bouncing ball downfield. Eddie Segura was chasing it down, but goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega sprinted out of the box to play it. Unfortunately for him, however, Vancouver forward Yordy Reyna out-hustled both Segura and Sisniega to the loose ball and took a touch around Sisniega before placing the ball in the unoccupied net with his next touch.
Whether this mistake was due to a miscommunication between Segura and Sisniega or just Sisniega simply misjudging his ability to get to the ball first, LAFC’s back line looked very different from what LAFC fans are used to seeing.
Off the restart, LAFC immediately pushed downfield again. Mohamed El-Munir, who started at left back to give regular Jordan Harvey a rest, laid off a pass for the overlapping Diego Rossi who then sent a shot wide, but El-Munir was taken down by the sliding challenge of Vancouver’s Erik Godoy. Godoy was shown the game’s first yellow card in the seventh minute after Rossi’s shot went out of bounds.
Though LAFC had dominated possession at a 66-34 rate and found seven shots by the 20th minute, Vancouver only needed the one shot they got to take a lead.
Los Angeles’ eighth shot had plenty of potential off the foot of Mark-Anthony Kaye in the 26th minute, who again started at right midfield. He laid off a pass for Rossi on the right side of the box and Rossi returned a pass to Kaye. Kaye saw the space in front of him, took a touch inside to set up a shot, and ripped a line drive towards the far upper corner, but Crepeau made an impressive save with a full extension dive.
Still controlling the majority of possession, LAFC earned its fifth free kick by the 33rd minute. Vela swung in a cross from the right side and Blackmon skied to meet the ball and headed a bullet of a shot on net, but it came right back after squarely hitting the crossbar.
The black shirts could have easily been getting frustrated at this point with five corners and 11 shots to Vancouver’s single shot and no corners, but any resentment felt would not even last another minute once they earned a sixth corner kick in the 34th minute.
Again, Vela curled in a cross from the corner but this time towards the far post. It floated over the previous target Blackmon towards a collapsing Adama Diomande tapped in the equalizing goal. Vancouver defender Andy Rose tried to duck to let the ball fly out of the box out of danger, but could not get out of the way fast enough and accidentally deflected the ball into his own net with his head.
But Diomande — and Vela — did not stop there. Just eight minutes later, LAFC earned an eighth corner. Vela once again curled in a cross, this time over Crepeau, and an unmarked Diomande easily placed home his fourth goal of the season and first league goal since May 11th inside the far post from point-blank range to give Vela his 12th assist.
LAFC headed into halftime with a 69-31 possession advantage and a 15-1 shot advantage, which made Vancouver’s goal off their sole shot seem like a blip on the screen. Salvaging the first half after a shocking first five minutes validated the dominating effort the black-and-gold displayed since the first effort despite conceding an early goal, and certainly helped them get their swagger back.
They started the second half with a firecracker of a shot. Off a Vancouver turnover, Kaye turned upfield near the midline, came down the middle of the field, and cut inside towards his left before rocketing another bullet on net. This time, he shot near post, easily beating the diving Crepeau off the crossbar and in for his fourth goal on the year and first since May 11th, just like Diomande. Out of nowhere, Los Angeles had the lead and an insurance goal to boot.
Reyna earned Vancouver’s second yellow card in the 48th minute after harshly taking down Kaye just outside of LAFC’s box.
Then, in the 54th minute, Vela decided it was his turn to add to the lead. On a two-on-two fast break off an Eduard Atuesta pass with Diomande being marked on the other side of the box, Vela took a touch inside onto his favorite left foot and curled a shot towards the far post.
At this point, any consistent viewer of LAFC would expect the shot to curl inside the far post. Actually, the ball deflected off of Vancouver center back Doneil Henry, who was marking Diomande, and into the near post as Crepeau dove helplessly away from the ball. This was Vela’s 18th goal on the year and Atuesta’s seventh assist.
Rodolfo Zelaya replaced Diomande up top for LAFC’s first substitution in the 62nd minute.
In the 70th minute, Vela was back on track to averaging a goal per game. Kaye laid off a soft pass ahead of El-Munir on the left side of the box. El-Munir played it back to Kaye, who one-timed a shot on net. Crepeau reacted fast enough to get two hands on the ball and pop it up in the air, but Vela was in perfect position at the six-yard line to body up the defender marking him and headed home his second goal of the night into the open net.
But LAFC still. wasn’t. done.
Just two minutes later, Atuesta beat his man to get inside the right side of the box and rocketed a shot off the near post. The rebound bounced towards an unmarked Rossi near the penalty spot, who then one-timed a volley on net. It went off the crossbar and seemed to bounce out, but the Assistant Referee signaled the ball had fully crossed the goal line before bouncing back out, giving LAFC a whopping 6-1 lead with almost twenty minutes still remaining.
Jordan Harvey came on in place of Eddie Segura in the 74th minute for LAFC’s second substitution.
The Whitecaps simply could not keep up with the barrage of attacking and shots from Los Angeles. With ten minutes to go, LAFC enjoyed an astounding 27 to 5 shot advantage while also maintaining possession domination at a 65-35 rate.
Atuesta was assessed a yellow card in the 80th minute after a poor tackle and seemed to injure himself on the same play. Latif Blessing replaced him the next minute for Los Angeles’ final substitution, but Atuesta was able to jog off under his own power.
Vancouver’s Fredy Montero slid into Kaye in the 85th minute. Montero’s lead foot caught Kaye across the shin with his cleat up and he was immediately sent off with a red card.
Finally, after four minutes of added time, Vancouver’s rough night came to an end.
Overall, the Whitecaps did not get many chances to put a lot of pressure on the back line of Los Angeles, but Dejan Jakovic’s 2019 debut starting at center back with Zimmerman still at the Gold Cup went almost as smoothly as he could want. While LAFC seemed to play too casual against an opponent they know they should handily beat for the third time this year, it is important to know this team can turn it on as soon as they concede.
They’ll be back in action on Wednesday at The Banc against Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal.
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