Los Angeles Football Club have struggled for consistency all season, but they may have found a toehold, after defeating the Seattle Sounders 3-1 Sunday at Banc of California Stadium to win their consecutive games in league play for the first time all season.
The win may have come at a price, with multiple LAFC players suffering injuries and perhaps some of them being long-term losses, but a reserve-heavy group dug deep and found a way to win, one of their best wins of the season and one of the grittiest the team has ever pulled off.
Obviously there were multiple changes in the lineup from LAFC’s last game a week ago. Danny Musovski and Adrien Perez started up top with Bradley Wright-Phillips, while Francisco Ginella got the nod in midfield. Jordan Harvey moved back to his usual left back slot, and Dejan Jakovic was back in at central defense.
LAFC were dealt a blow in the opening minutes, as Mark-Anthony Kaye rolled his ankle in a full sprint while trying to win a ball, his ankle appearing to swell almost as soon as the injury happened. Bradley brought on Andy Najar at right back and moved Latif Blessing up to midfield in Kaye’s place. Hopefully Kaye’s injury is not major, but we’ll find out later.
It got worse, as Najar himself suffered a hamstring injury and went straight to the locker room, less than five minutes after entering as a sub, with Mohamed El-Munir replacing him.
Things looked up in the 15th minute, however, as Eduard Atuesta’s free kick service was headed in by Danny Musovski to make it 1-0 for LAFC.
The teams went to the halftime break with LAFC holding the one-goal lead, with Seattle knocking on the door but the black-and-gold holding firm to maintain their advantage.
Young homegrown Christian Torres entered the match at halftime for Perez, who has not played much so far this season and was likely not 90-minutes fit.
Harvey made a huge stop in the 57th minute, when he headed a goalbound shot by Yeimar Gomez Andrade off the line to keep the Sounders off the board. Two minutes later, more misfortune for LAFC, as Eddie Segura and Pablo Sisniega collided on a Sounders free kick and both players went down hard. In the end, they both continued on.
Fighting on, LAFC got an insurance goal in the 65th minute, as a good buildup on a rare foray forward in the second half led to Ginella absolutely blasting the shot just inside the far post from distance to make it 2-0. It was the Uruguayan’s first career goal for LAFC.
Seattle got back into the game in the 77th minute, with Nicolas Lodeiro smashing a free kick into the top corner, cutting LAFC’s lead to a goal.
With LAFC looking like they may need to emergency defend to see out the game, they got another insurance goal in the 84th minute. Wright-Phillips set up Latif Blessing with a one-timer that was blocked by Stefan Frei. Blessing tried to follow it up and was crunched by two Sounders defenders, but Musovski followed up and coolly hit the shot to give LAFC the 3-1 lead.
Kwadwo Opoku made his MLS debut in MLS stoppage time, after signing his contract with LAFC just last week.
In the moment, this was just what the doctor ordered, with LAFC finally winning a second game in a row after months of inconsistent play game to game. I think this is the best “grind it out” win since LAFC’s win at the Houston Dynamo last season when they had to rotate and play on two days’ rest. It was not the flowing game that we have come to expect for the black-and-gold, but they did what they needed to do, and it feels good to get one back on the Sounders, who have had their number recently.
On the other hand, if Kaye in particular is going to have to miss significant time, it could be a huge blow to LAFC’s season. Their international absences will probably miss two more games, but Kaye is a key player in midfield and LAFC clearly are not the same team when he’s not playing. So we’ll see the downside to this win in the injury department.
LAFC are back in action Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps, at their temporary “home” stadium of Providence Park in Portland, to bypass coronavirus regulations in Canada. LAFC got their biggest-ever win last time they played the Whitecaps, but Vancouver are coming off a win themselves this weekend and will look to show they’ve turned a corner. We’ll see if that’s the case, and it should be another good game.
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