Los Angeles Football Club concluded their two-game east coast swing with another draw, this one a 1-1 tie against the Philadelphia Union, which extended the league leaders’ winless run to four games, the longest such run of the season.
It was good news entering the match for both teams, with each side fielding a first-team lineup. This was especially important for LAFC, as they welcomed back their starters who were on international duty, plus Carlos Vela, who sat out the last two games with a hamstring injury.
But the home side drew first blood, as Kacper Przybylko scored just three minutes in with a bloop header that fooled Tyler Miller and snuck in under the crossbar.
In the ensuing minutes, there were two penalty appeals by LAFC, one on Diego Rossi and one on Adama Diomande, the latter looking like a pretty clear PK, but the referee shrugged off both and LAFC played their way into the game, getting more and more comfortable with possession.
Miller stepped up big time in the 24th minute, with a goal-saving stop on Brenden Aaronson against the run of play. At the other end, Andre Blake made a huge save 11 minutes later, getting a hand to Eduard Atuesta’s rip from outside the box to keep the black-and-gold off the board.
But LAFC found their breakthrough just before halftime. Mark-Anthony Kaye’s cross/shot clanged off the crossbar, and on the scramble in the box, Vela latched onto the loose ball and pushed it across the line to score his 28th goal of the season.
The teams traded possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half, and the game started opening up, getting sloppy and chippy on both sides. Vela exited the game in the 66th minute, after nearly scoring on a chip after a nice dribble up the right channel, likely to help manage his health in the homestretch of the season, replaced by Brian Rodriguez.
Rodriguez had a nice chance shortly after entering the game, but his shot went on the wrong side of the side netting. Then, Miller had another vital stop, anticipating Fafa Picault’s shot and cleanly blocking it even though he looked like he would be screened on the play.
All in all, it was a game where LAFC will feel a mix of good and bad coming out. They got a result, but not a win, in a game where they controlled the run of play for long stretches. But the Union are legit, and Vela scored in his return, and frankly, that play elevated LAFC to getting the draw. At the same time, the fact that LAFC are now four games without a win, albeit getting three draws in that span, has to be worrisome with the playoffs right around the corner.
LAFC are back in action next Saturday, when they return home to The Banc to host Toronto FC for the teams’ only meeting this season. TFC are nearing desperation mode for their playoff prospects, and will have to go for the win, while LAFC will be eager to get back in the win column as their winless run is now four games.
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