Los Angeles Football Club battled back from being down a man just halfway into the game to come away with a 2-0 win and become the first team this season to clinch a playoff birth Saturday night in Utah against Real Salt lake. Adama Diomande added to his goal total and the game-winning goal came when captain Carlos Vela broke the league record for most combined goals and assists in a single season with a goal from the penalty spot.
LAFC showed up with a lineup at full strength including Walker Zimmerman resuming as the starting center back after serving a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation.
Real Salt Lake earned the game’s first yellow card when midfielder Corey Baird yanked the arm of Mark-Anthony Kaye after Kaye had beat him on the dribble in the 6th minute.
Salt Lake also committed a bad giveaway in the 15th minute to give us the first real scoring opportunity of the match. A poor RSL pass ended up at the feet of a wide open Diego Rossi on the left side of the box and he sent the ball into the box low on the ground.
Adama Diomande cut inside to take a shot from the penalty shot on a one-time which was immediately deflected and blocked by Nick Rimando. Diomande then whiffed on the rebound before an RSL defender trying to block the shot that Diomande whiffed on accidentally hit the ball back towards Rimando. Rimando made another diving save before the ball was eventually cleared.
Walker Zimmerman was called for a foul in the 17th minute for pushing a RSL player in the back challenging for a lofted ball. Zimmerman held onto the ball trying to plead his case to the referee and ended up getting shown the game’s second yellow card for it.
Diomande was fed the ball near midfield. He beat the center back with a smooth move, and with only the keeper to beat, he took a left-footed shot that bounced back off the right post. The rebound came to Rossi on the left side, but he took an extra touch before taking another shot, and it was blocked by a defender on a tight angle.
LAFC had another opportunity denied by the last defender in the 25th minute. Jordan Harvey found his way inside the box and laid off a nice pass to Latif Blessing. Blessing dribbled around a defender and with only Rimando to beat, Rimando charged Blessing and Blessing laid it off for Diomande.
Diomande looked to have an open net to finish, but was denied by the chest of RSL left back Aaron Herrera. The ball was then cleared, and the referee blew his whistle to show Herrera a red card, thinking he blocked the ball with a handball.
The referee then stopped to take one of the shortest looks at video review ever and called off the penalty. Herrera’s red card was then revoked.
Real Salt Lake finally found their first threatening opportunity in the 43rd minute. Jefferson Savarino was lofted a through-ball and had only goalkeeper Tyler Miller to beat. Miller came out, diving at Savarino and Savarino sent a shot over the crossbar. Even more fortunate: the play was called back because Savarino was offside.
Savarino came back in the 45th minute on the end of another nice pass past the LAFC back line. Savarino shot the bouncing ball on a half volley near post and Miller reacted quick enough to palm it out for RSL’s first corner.
After three minutes of added time, both teams went into halftime scoreless. LAFC enjoyed a 9-4 shot advantage, but despite the half yielding most chances to Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake had controlled a slight majority 51 percent of possession.
The second half could not have started worse for LAFC when Zimmerman was assessed his second yellow card of the match and sent off on the 48th minute. This was LAFC’s first red card suffered on the season.
RSL’s Everton Luiz beat Latif Blessing off the dribble near midfield and then a flat-footed Zimmerman after that. Zimmerman stuck his arm out knowing Luiz was going to get by him and Luiz went down.
Tristan Blackmon immediately started warming up and was substituted in for right back Steven Beitashour. Blessing was asked to swing between right back and right midfield.
Real Salt Lake got its first scoring opportunity since LAFC was knocked down to ten men in the 54th minute when Baird was sent a long ball. He settled it with a touch before taking a shot, but Miller came out fast enough to dive on the ball and kill the shot. Miller dove on the ball as it weakly squirted underneath him.
Everton Luiz was shown a yellow card two minutes later after taking down Kaye with a slide tackle.
After ten minutes of Salt Lake dominating possession and creating more through-ball chances, LAFC found its way back into the game in the 62nd minute.
Blessing wrestled with Luiz to take the ball away and after a quick passing combination with Kaye, Diomande turned near midfield and had plenty of space to fill. He dribbled forward about 25 yards before two Salt Lake defenders on the back line peeled away to step up to him. Diomande immediately sent Vela on a run in response and Vela was taken down in the box by Aaron Herrera.
The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Herrera was assessed a red card to put both teams on ten men. Vela then stepped up to the spot to put Los Angeles up 1-0 and break the record for most combined goals and assists in a single MLS season (39) with his 24th goal of the year.
Diego Rossi was replaced by Lee Nguyen as LAFC’s second substitution in the 68th minute.
RSL’s Albert Rusnak was sent on another long ball past the defensive line. With only Miller to beat, he sent a bullet of a shot over the crossbar for another goal kick.
LAFC came back in the 75th minute when Vela beat his defender to the right inside the box. Vela raised a rather weak shot on net once he got to the six-yard box but Rimando was still forced to leave his feet and push it over the bar for Los Angeles’ second corner. But this would not be enough to prevent LAFC from taking a two-goal advantage.
Nguyen took the ball upfield into space in the 82nd minute and sent Diomande on a run again when a defender stepped up. Diomande chased down the pass inside the left side of the box and lifted a shot over the left shoulder of Rimando, into the far upper corner to put LAFC up 2-0.
Vela immediately brought the pressure back to RSL’s box the next minute. He crossed a ball to Diomande on the far post. With a defender closing, Diomande decided to take a touch across the defender and then laid it back for the trailing Nguyen. Nguyen took one touch to his left and lasered a shot towards the near post that Rimando dove to get a hand on and knock out of bounds.
Diomande was replaced by Danilo Silva in the 85th minute for LAFC’s final sub.
LAFC did well to control the ball and run out the clock with a two-goal lead. Possession dipped to 43 percent for the game by the final whistle, but three points still came after four minutes of added time.
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