In the most inconsistent season for LAFC to date, the black-and-gold returned to the win column after a last-minute loss to the San Jose Earthquakes last week by taking care of business in attack and doing just enough in defense to get the job done and secure the three points.
Bob Bradley played the same starting XI he’s been using lately, with one exception: Jordan Harvey made his first start at center back for LAFC in competitive action and first in MLS play in his career since 2013 at least, possibly ever, replacing Dejan Jakovic on the night.
LAFC got on the board in the 23rd minute, with Jose Cifuentes getting space on the right flank in attack, and feeding Diego Rossi at the far post. The Uruguayan had an uncharacteristic mix-up, and the ball clanged off the post, but it bounced to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who finished with a cool poacher’s goal to make it 1-0.
Then Rossi doubled the lead in the 27th minute, taking a feed from Cifuentes on the counterattack, dribbling to get space on a defender in the box, and chipping it just over RSL goalkeeper Andrew Putna, giving LAFC a 2-0 lead.
After that, LAFC’s defense became a concern, playing a “bend but don’t break approach.” In the first half, it worked, with the outfield players and Pablo Sisniega able to disrupt RSL enough to prevent any really good chances, but they played on the edge throughout to close out the first 45.
Coming right out of the restart, RSL had two good looks off corner kicks, but wasted their chances both times, with LAFC riding the pressure successfully.
Sam Johnson had a point-blank header in front of goal for RSL just before the hour mark that he somehow missed, and a minute later Wright-Phillips set up Brian Rodriguez, who dribbled into the box and chipped Putna in impressive fashion for a 3-0 lead.
But Real Salt Lake found their lifeline in the 64th minute, as Marcelo Silva hit a powerful header off a corner kick to beat Pablo Sisniega to get the home side on the board.
Danny Musovski came off the bench in place of BWP and it looked like he may have iced the game for LAFC around the 75th minute, but his goal was ultimately chalked off due to offside.
I think this was a good performance for LAFC, all things considered. Getting goals for Wright-Phillips, Rossi and Rodriguez is impressive and I think the chemistry between that three continues to grow. I think Sisniega had a good night and was quite busy, so even with conceding a goal this was a game that was particularly good for him to get through, while Cifuentes set up two goals and was impressive once again. Collectively, I think RSL left at least another stone-cold goal, probably two, on the table and LAFC were lucky their opponent couldn’t punish them and really push them for the win. But that’s how it goes sometimes, and LAFC did what they needed to in order to win, so it was successful on the night.
The win improves LAFC’s standing in the playoff race in a tightly-packed Western Conference, as they move up to 5th place and sit just three points behind the Portland Timbers in 2nd place. It may be foolish to expect it with LAFC not able to win consecutive games in league play yet this year, but if they can win their next game, too, they’ll vault up the standings even more and improve their playoff prospects that much more.
LAFC are next scheduled to be in action Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids in Colorado, but a coronavirus outbreak on the Rapids means they’ve postponed their last two games. Will the game against LAFC proceed, or will that have to be postponed? It’s hard to say at this point, we’ll have to see what happens in the next couple days. But, that’s the schedule for the time being.
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