For the third straight game, Los Angeles Football Club conceded first at the MLS is Back Tournament, but for the third straight game, they came back and achieved a result. But they didn’t get the last laugh as they were pegged back late in a 2-2 draw against the Portland Timbers Thursday in Orlando.
Jeremy Ebobisse’s late equalizer for Portland handed first place in the group to the Timbers, with LAFC getting what looks like a much tougher draw in the next round of the competition as a result.
Bob Bradley made just one change but shuffled his LAFC XI around a bit. Dejan Jakovic came out, with Tristan Blackmon sliding over to center back, Latif Blessing to right back, and Francisco Ginella made his first start of the tournament in midfield.
The game started badly for LAFC, as Jaroslaw Niezgoda opened the scoring just seven minutes in, with a build-up that sliced right through the LAFC defense.
LAFC were kind of adrift until after the first hydration break, when they regrouped and scored two goals before halftime. The first came in the 36th minute, when Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his stellar start to life with the club, hitting a lob from distance to make it 1-1.
Then in the 40th minute, LAFC took the lead when Brian Rodriguez’s corner kick was headed in at the back post by Mark-Anthony Kaye.
After the restart, tempers started to flare and fouls began piling up, Portland holding a huge advantage in terms of fouls conceded.
Andy Najar was one of LAFC’s substitutes, the Honduran making his debut for the club in the 67th minute. Jose Cifuentes and Mohamed El-Munir also entered the game at the same time. Bryce Duke later entered the match as well.
LAFC tried to bring the game home, but after Ebobisse and Diego Valeri came off the bench in the second half, momentum swung their way, and after a series of corner kicks, including one which produced a sharp save from Sisniega, Ebobisse scored on a header off a recirculated corner in the 81st minute to make it 2-2.
All things considered, LAFC maintain their unbeaten run to the MLS season, but there was a lot of good/not so good about the performance. Before the hydration break, LAFC were on the back foot. Between the hydration breaks, they were definitely the better team, and after the second one, they were caught. If there was a game to falter, this is it, but not LAFC’s best performance, even if they did still get a result.
LAFC are next in the Round of 16, and they’ll play Monday night against the Seattle Sounders as a result of failing to win in this game. If they had held on for the win, they would have played FC Cincinnati, who while they have had two straight wins, probably would have been the preferred draw for LAFC. Still, in a knockout tournament you have to play the team in front of you, and next up is the Sounders.
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