Los Angeles Football Club put together a workmanlike performance to open the 2020 MLS regular season, with a moment of brilliance by Carlos Vela leading them to a 1-0 win over expansion side Inter Miami in that team’s inaugural match, at Banc of California Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
On Vela’s birthday, the now-31 year old scored just before halftime with a ridiculous chip to start his and LAFC’s third league campaign on the right note.
As expected, Bob Bradley didn’t make many changes from Thursday, with just two new starters: Jordan Harvey in at left back for Diego Palacios and Francisco Ginella in for Eduard Atuesta in midfield.
Mark-Anthony Kaye put the ball in the back of the net in the 9th minute, but the goal was chalked off because Diego Rossi was offside in the buildup.
The rest of the first half was rather sleepy. LAFC had most of the ball, but with Inter Miami sitting deep they had to be more patient and the flow of the game was a bit disjointed.
Kenneth Vermeer was forced into a critical double-save for LAFC in the 42nd minute, denying both Rodolfo Pizarro and Nicolas Figal, before Carlos Vela opened the scoring in the 44th minute with an incredible lofted chip with no other options, and damned if the birthday boy didn’t crush it.
LAFC scored another goal in the opening minute back from the break, but Rossi’s tally this time was whistled back because Brian Rodriguez was offside on the buildup, so the score stayed 1-0.
Atuesta replaced Kaye just before the hour mark for LAFC. Former black-and-gold midfielder Lee Nguyen entered the game in the 68th minute to make his Inter Miami debut.
Around that time, Miami defender Alvas Powell clattered into Vermeer on a clearance, with the players clashing heads. Vermeer was evaluated but continued in the match.
Ginella was subbed out in the 76th minute on his MLS debut for Jose Cifuentes, also making his MLS debut. Bryce Duke then made his MLS debut in stoppage time, replacing Latif Blessing.
All in all, this was a grind-it-out kind of game for LAFC. They weren’t at their best, they gave Inter Miami signs of life but weren’t punished for quite a few breakdowns, and they were either offside at the wrong times or their finishing was poor. But they got the goal and the clean sheet and the three points. That’s what’s important in games like this.
LAFC are back in action next Sunday, also at The Banc, as they’ll host the Philadelphia Union in league play, with CCL resuming the week after that.
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