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5 reactions from LAFC’s 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake

A playoff spot clinched against their playoff foes last year.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club downed Real Salt Lake 2-0 in Utah last night. Here’s what we took from this great night in LAFC history.

Vela breaks another record

Carlos Vela does it again. He broke the deadlock in this game, in what had been a feisty game and one that, in the balances of chances LAFC had, they deserved to be ahead. In the 64th minute he was taken down in the box by Aaron Herrera, and Vela converted the penalty. In doing so, he became the single-season leader of goals and assists in a season with 39 goals and assists so far this season.

Sebastian Giovinco had the previous record with 38 in 2015. The fact that Carlos Vela broke this record with nine games left to go is remarkable. And since there are so many games left, Vela stands to break the record by a pretty wide margin.

Defensive options

LAFC will be down their best defender going into their midweek game against the San Jose Earthquakes, as Walker Zimmerman picked up a red card, after a second yellow early in the second half.

He pulled down Everton Luiz, who was making a break down the left side, and was sent off for the tactical foul.

Zimmerman will be suspended for Wednesday’s game against the Quakes, an important match for both teams.

LAFC looks to keep pace for the Supporters’ Shield, while the Earthquakes are fighting to hold onto a playoff spot in the crowded Western conference.

The bright spot is Zimmerman will be back to face the Galaxy next Sunday night. Consider it a bit of enforced squad rotation.

Lee Nguyen and Adama Diomande finish it off

After LAFC took the lead, RSL really pushed to level the game, and generated good chances. The defense was tested, but they performed well, and the gaps that were there against the New York Red Bulls did not develop for RSL. Then on the other end, substitute Lee Nguyen led the drive through RSL’s defense, and he then slipped in Adama Diomande who slammed the shot in at the far post. Dio deserved a goal in this game, after hitting the post and having one cleared off the line in the first half.

Big game win

In some circles around the league LAFC have come to be seen as frontrunners, beating up on the bad teams but failing to show up in “big games.”

Well here was another big game where LAFC did show up and win. Despite the turmoil surrounding Mike Petke’s firing, RSL had performed well during his suspension, sporting a 6-match unbeaten streak going into the game. That combined with the game being on the road and LAFC being able to clinch a playoff spot would seem to qualify this as a big game.

LAFC aren’t going to overturn this narrative overnight (though beating the Galaxy on Sunday would certainly help), but if they keep performing and win trophies this year, they can leave that perception in the dust.

Playoff bound again

LAFC’s win clinched their second straight playoff berth, which if you step back is really remarkable. Bob Bradley, as well as other coaches in soccer both here and abroad, have stressed that individual moments and milestones should be appreciated and recognized. That’s one of the reasons LAFC have their postgame celebration after every win.

While grander goals are set for this season, it’s important to appreciate what this team has done so far, not just for players and coaches but for fans, too.

Expansion teams have a history of struggling in this league. Orlando City still has not made the playoffs since joining the league in 2015. Minnesota United struggled mightily their first few years before what looks like a playoff team this year. LAFC’s predecessors Chivas USA struggled on and off the field in their brief tenure in MLS.

We’re all hoping LAFC win trophies, both this season and beyond. But it’s important that it does not get lost just what they’ve done so far.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!