After NYCFC kept their Supporters’ Shield hopes alive with a win over Atlanta United earlier in the day, Los Angeles Football Club would have to finish Wednesday night with a win over the Houston Dynamo in order to secure the 2019 Supporters’ Shield. And with goals from deserving names such as Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Eduard Atuesta, they did.
In LAFC’s second game in four days, Mohamed El-Munir started at left back, Tristan Blackmon started at right back, and Lee Nguyen started at right midfield, giving starters Jordan Harvey, Steven Beitashour, and Mark-Anthony Kaye a rest. Brian Rodriguez also made his second consecutive start up top with Adama Diomande still unavailable.
LAFC struck first in the 23rd minute. After a grounded cross from Tristan Blackmon, Brian Rodriguez took a touch and was taken down by the penalty spot. Carlos Vela tee’d up the shot and coolly buried his record 30th goal on the season inside the left to bring the club one step closer to its first major trophy win.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as Houston came back to tie it in the 27th minute. A curled cross was headed down and shot on net past Tyler Miller. El-Munir slid in time to block the ball but it deflected off the retreating Miller and back into his own net for the own goal.
But not even a minute later, LAFC earned a second penalty shot when Lee Nguyen was clipped from behind and taken down on the border of the box. But after a quick VAR review, it was determined that the foul occurred just outside the box, so LAFC was awarded a free kick instead of a second penalty.
Vela again tee’d up the shot. He whipped in a curling shot that beat the keeper but came back off the bottom of the crossbar and out.
After three minutes of added time, Houston and Los Angeles went into halftime knotted at one goal apiece. LAFC dominated possession from the first whistle and as a result more than tripled Houston’s scoring opportunities with a 63-37 possession and 10-3 shot advantage.
Kaye came in to replace Rodriguez in the 58th minute for LAFC’s first personnel change. This pushed Blessing up top to take Rodriguez’s position.
LAFC continued to dominate the game as the second half continued, and their effort paid off in the 70th minute. Like the first goal, Blackmon sent a cross from the right side but this time there was air underneath it. It was deflected by a defender and rang off the crossbar, but then an unmarked Diego Rossi was able to place the rebound home with a diving header for his 16th goal on the year.
This was the goal that clinched the Supporters’ Shield win.
In the 81st minute, Blessing drew a foul just outside the left corner of the box. Eduard Atuesta stood over the ball and curled home a perfectly-placed shot inside the far post to cement LAFC’s Supporters’ Shield aspirations.
Houston still tried their hand at delaying the celebrations with a corner in the 84th minute with a header that would have beat Miller, but Nguyen blocked the shot away on the goal line.
The final whistle blew after two minutes of added time, and LAFC became the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners.
An amazing season spearheaded by Carlos Vela’s record breaking offense, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta’s unmatched control in the midfield, and stolid defense from Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura (who has only missed one game this season due to rest) got the ending it deserved.
But, there are still games to be played. With the MLS Cup Playoffs now a under a month away, LAFC will travel to Minnesota to play United FC in their final road game of the season. And just one goal from tying the single-season goals scored record, Vela will have two more games to reach the 31 goal mark. Plenty to celebrate, plenty to look ahead to.
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