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Taking the Shield: LAFC 4, New York Red Bulls 2

LAFC return home and trade two goals at a time to earn three points.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Los Angeles FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In its first match since the transfer window closed, Los Angeles Football Club showed resilience in completing a 4-2 victory over the visiting New York Red Bulls Sunday night. After blowing a two-goal lead at the end of the first half, two unlikely goals from two defenders made a difference by the end of the game.

LAFC showed up in full strength with the lone exception being Triston Blackmon at center back in place of the normal Walker Zimmerman, who was serving his one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation.

The game was intense from the first whistle with fouls being traded by each team. The first yellow card was shown to New York’s Tim Parker in the eighth minute after he was late trying to block a pass from Adama Diomande and ended up stomping Diomande’s foot.

Soon enough, however, LAFC took over control of the game and deposited two goals in quick succession 20 minutes in.

Carlos Vela curled in a free kick in the 23rd minute that was far outside the right side of the box. A squad of five black and gold players crashed the net, and Jordan Harvey rose up at the six-yard box to nod the pass home for the opening goal. This was Harvey’s first LAFC goal as well as his first since 2017.

Two minutes later, Latif Blessing put his own stamp on the game. Eduard Atuesta played a long, grounded ball out to the right side of the box to Steven Beitashour, who then one-timed a grounded cross along the six-yard box. Diego Rossi looked like he had a shot but passed it up to allow the streaking Blessing to knock the ball into the net by the far post.

LAFC certainly would have enjoyed going into halftime with a two-goal lead, but the Red Bulls halved the deficit in the 42nd minute out of nowhere. Blessing made a tackle outside the top of the left side of the box, but the ball rolled to Cristian Casseres Jr., who turned with the momentum of the ball and one-timed a low shot near post that beat the diving Miller. This was just the second goal from outside the box for New York on the season.

Then, just three minutes later, the Red Bulls tied it. They sent Daniel Royer on a run down the left side with a lofted ball. Royer had the time and space to calmly line up a low cross that hit the feet of the streaking Brian White. White’s shot beat the falling Miller and bounced back out after hitting the post, but took a lucky bounce off the back of Miller and back into the net before he could recover.

After starting the game with an assertive control, NYRB turned the momentum of the game by employing what LAFC head coach Bob Bradley at halftime called “their best press of the season,” forcing Los Angeles into uncomfortable, panicked passing that resulted in giveaways. Though LAFC finished the half winning the possession battle 58-to-42, the Red Bulls had produced nine shots to LAFC’s four.

Perhaps too invigorated by their comeback late in the first half, the Red Bulls started the second half earning two more yellow cards within the first three minutes.

Blessing started to breakaway from Casseres Jr. crossing midfield and Casseres Jr. yanked him back by the shoulder in the 46th minute. In the 48th, Kemar Lawrence hooked his arm around Diomande who was also trying to breakaway near midfield and took him down from behind with a trip.

The aggressive play from New York did not hinder LAFC’s search for another lead as it looked like it came in the 50th minute.

Mark-Anthony Kaye dribbled into space outside of the 18-yard line before laying off a short pass to lead Diomande. On the one-time, Diomande back-heeled a pass back to the trailing Kaye. Kaye one-timed a shot that was immediately deflected and rainbowed over the keeper into the net.

Before play resumed, the referee looked at a VAR review and ruled that Kaye tripped up and fouled a New York player between his pass to Diomande and his shot. This negated the goal and Los Angeles remained knotted with New York at two goals nearing the hour mark.

And in the 60th minute, LAFC earned a penalty. Atuesta and a pushed up Eddie Segura combined on a quick give-and-go, but before Atuesta could catch up with Segura’s leading pass, he was taken down by a reckless challenge inside the left corner of the box.

Vela stepped up to the spot and buried the go-ahead goal in the bottom right corner. Vela continues his pace of a goal per game on the season with his 23rd goal in his 23rd appearance.

Blessing earned another free kick in the 71st minute outside the box. The spot of the foul was similar to that which set up Harvey’s opening goal. Again, Vela stepped up to swing in a cross and this time Segura was first to the ball and nodded in a bouncing shot to put LAFC back up by two goals.

This was Segura’s first MLS goal, but perhaps more impressive was the fact that this goal provided Vela with his second assist of the night which tied him for the most goals and assists combined in a single MLS season (38).

On the 11th of August.

Rossi and Kaye were both subbed out in the 82nd minute for Joshua Perez and Lee Nguyen, respectively.

New York tried to make the game interesting again when Tom Barlow broke away from LAFC’s back line in the 89th minute and had only Miller to beat. Barlow took a few extra touches after getting into the box and finally took his shot towards the far post, but Miller parried it away with an outstretched foot.

The final whistle came after four minutes of extra time and LAFC reached 55 points on the season with its 17th win of the season. Los Angeles will travel to Utah next Saturday to face Real Salt Lake.

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