Los Angeles Football Club’s topsy-turvy season continued Wednesday, as they took the lead against the San Jose Earthquakes and played the final half-hour up a man, but still lost 3-2 at Earthquakes Stadium in the penultimate game of the regular season.
Latif Blessing scored his first goal of the season, but it was downhill from there for LAFC, as they were second-best the rest of the night and were well-beaten by the Earthquakes, who clinched their playoff berth with the victory.
There were several changes on the night for Bob Bradley, with the headliner being Bradley Wright-Phillips not available at all for personal reasons. Latif Blessing started in the forward line, while Tristan Blackmon got the nod at right back. Carlos Vela was on the bench to start the game once again.
LAFC opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, when a cross rolled through the goalmouth, with Diego Rossi getting a diving touch on it before Blessing bundled it over the line.
But Eduard Atuesta scored an own goal in the 28th minute off a corner kick to tie up the game for the Earthquakes.
Then San Jose took the lead in the 37th minute, with Chris Wondolowski waiting at the far post and redirecting Cristian Espinoza’s cross past Kenneth Vermeer in goal, to make it 2-1 to the home side.
Bob Bradley looked visibly upset after the Quakes scored those goals, and did not mess around at halftime, bringing on Carlos Vela (for Francisco Ginella, Blessing moving back to midfield) and Jordan Harvey (for Blackmon) at the break.
LAFC got a boost right after the hour mark, as Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill picked up his second yellow card of the night and was sent off.
But that didn’t change the tide, as Espinoza scored San Jose’s third goal of the night in the 72nd minute, once again beating LAFC’s defense with ease.
The only consolation late was Rossi scoring his 14th goal of the regular season deep in stoppage time, but that came too late for LAFC to push for an equalizer.
All in all, it’s a concern for LAFC with the playoffs coming up soon. This is the second straight game where LAFC were not at their best, but this time it cost them all three points. Bradley will almost certainly be fuming at the team’s performance in this one, but perhaps the team’s coronavirus outbreak and uncertainty over this game being played at all weighed far more heavily than we may have expected.
LAFC will wrap up the regular season on Sunday when they host the Portland Timbers. The Timbers are coming off a loss too, even though they are also in the playoffs, so both teams will want to finish the regular season strong, and I expect another tough game for both sides.
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