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Relentless: LAFC 1, Toronto FC 1

LAFC battles back to equalize in the final minute of added time.

MLS: Toronto FC at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

After returning from a two-game road trip with two points, Los Angeles Football Club was on the verge of suffering its second consecutive home shutout loss, this time at the hands of Toronto FC. With a slow start from LAFC, a first-half strike from Tsubasa Endoh seemed like it was going to be the difference, but the relentless home side earned a penalty in added time and Carlos Vela came through with his 29th goal of the season to make the final score 1-1.

The Black-and-Gold put out a full strength lineup again apart from Brian Rodriguez making his second start in lieu of starter Adama Diomande, after voluntarily checking entering the MLS substance abuse and behavioral health program. This moved Carlos Vela into the center forward position.

LAFC did not seem to be able to establish themselves early on and Toronto FC took advantage in the meantime.

In the 19th minute, Jozy Altidore laid off a pass inside the left side of the box and the overlapping, unmarked Tsubasa Endoh took a touch before ripping a low left-footed shot that beat Tyler Miller just inside the far post to take a 1-0 lead.

The miscommunication continued during the following minutes even resulting in a Toronto corner kick when Eddie Segura and Jordan Harvey combined to regain possession but then flubbed a pass between each other.

Soon enough, Toronto’s passing around LAFC’s defense opened up another prime scoring opportunity. In the 30th minute, Marky Delgado took a shot from the right side of the box that was blocked by a sliding Walker Zimmerman.

Finally, LAFC seemed to wake up when Vela hooked up with Diego Rossi on a perfect through-ball that Rossi then buried inside the near post. Unfortunately, the goal was disallowed as Rossi was called offside for starting his run a bit too early.

Toronto went into halftime with a lead by winning 60 percent of possession and taking seven shots to LAFC’s two.

Tristant Blackmon replaced Steven Beitashour at right back to start the second half.

The first 25 minutes of the second half saw LAFC dominate possession and keep Toronto on its heels defending the one-goal lead. By the 70th minute, LAFC had turned the 60-40 possession deficit into a slight 51-49 advantage and had bumped their shot total up to 11 while Toronto was only able to add one more shot to their total.

Lee Nguyen came on to replace Zimmerman in the 75th minute moving to a three-man back line. LAFC’s inaugural captain Laurent Ciman was greeted with applause from the Los Angeles crowd when he made his return to The Banc and came on for Toronto FC the next minute.

Los Angeles continued to control possession and pepper Toronto with shots, but to no avail. By the 89th minute, 57 percent of possession belonged to LAFC and they had doubled Toronto’s shot total with 16 of their own. So, in a last ditch effort to buff the attack, head coach Bob Bradley replaced Mark-Anthony Kaye with Adrien Perez.

Finally, LAFC’s undeterred effort paid off in the last minute of added time. In the third minute of added time, Latif Blessing chested down a long cross near the right post. Toronto’s Chris Mavinga swung a high kick trying to clear the bouncing ball, but whiffed and ended up striking Blessing across the chest on his followthrough. Initially, no foul was called, but after a VAR review, LAFC was awarded a penalty kick.

Vela stepped up to the spot and banged home the equalizer. It was not an encouraging showing from the Black-and-Gold from the very first whistle, but it was also not a performance that should shake the confidence of its supporters as they fought for sixty minutes to come away with a tie.

LAFC will look to return to home dominating form on a short week when they host the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.

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