LAFC has a packed schedule lately, with their game last Saturday, the one Wednesday night, and the big match against the LA Galaxy on Sunday night.
To help keep his players fresh, Bob Bradley rotated some of his squad for the match against the Earthquakes. Tristan Blackmon started at center back (this bit of rotation was not by choice, as Walker Zimmerman was suspended for getting a red card in the game against RSL.)
Lee Nguyen, who’s been great as a super-sub lately, started in midfield in place of Mark-Anthony Kaye. And Josh Perez started up front, with Carlos Vela moving to the center, and Adama Diomande starting on the bench.
It’s a testament to LAFC that they can rotate their squad, and they still have capable to very good players coming off the bench and performing.
LAFC jumps on San Jose early
LAFC’s 5-0 win in San Jose early in the season has been one of their signature performances thus far.
Lost in the season’s shuffle is that the Earthquakes and LAFC played in the U.S. Open Cup, and this match was a lot closer and more competitive. The Earthquakes were hoping to build on this and put in a similar performance at LAFC.
This did not happen. Just six minutes in, LAFC were ahead. Eduard Atuesta played a great through ball to Josh Perez, who hit a good strike that was well saved by Daniel Vega, but Diego Rossi was there to pick up the rebound.
A little over 10 minutes later the lead was doubled. A short corner was played to Lee Nguyen, and his shot was blocked by the arm of Anibal Godoy. The handball was missed on first glance, but was given as a penalty after VAR stepped in.
Carlos Vela nailed the penalty, and LAFC were off to the races again.
Wild sequence to end the first half
Though the scoreline at 4-0 is similar to the 5-0 early in the season, this was quite a different game.
The Earthquakes were much more competitive this time around, and they had a number of chances to cut in to LAFC’s lead, most notably Danny Hoesen hitting the post in the 32nd minute.
They did not though, and then things got interesting at the end of the first half. After LAFC’s penalty, there was a sequence in LAFC’s box later in the first half in which Jordan Harvey appeared to be guilty of a handball.
Curiously though, this incident was not reviewed, and the potential handball went uncalled. This infuriated the Earthquakes bench, and after lengthy shouting matches with the 4th official and head referee, Matias Almeyda and his translator were sent off.
Minutes later, Carlos Vela scored to take the lead to 3-0 (more on this goal in a moment).
This game was much closer than the scoreline indicated. But with LAFC up 3-0 at halftime at home, the game was also basically over.
Carlos Vela’s stunner
I mean, just look at this goal.
Those were multiple professional defenders and a goalkeeper on the Earthquakes that Carlos Vela turned into traffic cones on his way to scoring the 3rd goal for LAFC.
This is definitely a goal of the year contender, and maybe the frontrunner. This was a stunner, and one i’m sure we’ve all watched multiple times, it was that good.
Josh Perez gets off the mark
The 4th goal of the game was also important and special but for different reasons.
Perez finally made the breakthrough by scoring, and it was an impressive goal at that.
Chris Wondolowski of the Earthquakes recently talked about how finally breaking the MLS all time goal scoring record allowed him to relax, and just focus on playing and winning.
Hopefully a similar weight is lifted off of Josh Perez’s shoulders now that he has scored his first MLS goal.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!