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Joao’s revenge: LAFC 1 (4), Orlando City 1 (5)

LAFC bounced from MLS is Back Tournament in penalty shootout.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club took the lead, but a former LAFC player came back to doom them and Orlando City beat them in the MLS is Back Tournament semifinal Friday following a 1-1 match which Orlando won 5-4 in a penalty shootout.

The penalty shootout was LAFC’s second all-time and their second loss in that format, as they crash out of the tournament after being pegged the favorites in the competition.

LAFC rolled out with the same starting XI they used against the Seattle Sounders on Monday, Bob Bradley deciding to go with the same players who carried the weight in that big win.

The opening 20 minutes were incredibly choppy on both sides, with fouls piling up all over the field and no rhythm.

As the first half wore on, both teams got some chances, with Bradley Wright-Phillips scoring just after the half-hour mark, but Brian Rodriguez was offside in the buildup and the goal was chalked off.

Possession was close to even at the break, but LAFC technically had no shots in the first half at all, the only other highlights in attack being a cross that whizzed through the zone by Diego Palacios and another shot by Rodriguez that was also offside.

It looked like things got worse for LAFC in the 55th minute, as Palacios brought down Ruan in the box and a penalty was called. The foul was clear, it must be said. But Nani stepped up to take the shot, and LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer made the save on the penalty to keep it 0-0.

Then, LAFC found even more life, as Diego Rossi stripped Sebas Mendez along the sideline, and blitzed upfield, finding Wright-Phillips who scored into the top netting in the 60th minute.

From there, it was more battle, as Orlando City pushed to pick up an equalizer, with LAFC pinned back and hanging on for dear life.

In the 75th minute, there was friendly fire, as Dejan Jakovic and Eduard Atuesta collided while trying to clear the ball in their box on a scramble, with Atuesta very much coming out worse for the wear. He tried to continue on, but had to sub out six minutes later, with Jose Cifuentes replacing him.

Both teams traded chances in the dying minutes, but former LAFC defender Joao Moutinho scored in the 90th minute off a corner kick by Nani, tying the game and leading to penalties after 90 minutes.

In the shootout, substitute Francisco Ginella scored the first attempt to make it 1-0 LAFC. Mauricio Pereyra scored Orlando’s first to make it 1-1. Then Jordan Harvey’s attempt went off the crossbar, keeping it 1-1 and swinging momentum to Orlando. Kyle Smith then scored for Orlando to give them the 2-1 edge. Rossi scored the next one to tie it up at 2-2, then Moutinho scored for Orlando to put the Lions ahead again at 3-2. Rodriguez then scored for LAFC to make it 3-3, but Antonio Carlos scored, barely getting it by Vermeer, to give Orlando a 4-3 edge. Latif Blessing scored the fifth kick for LAFC to tie it up, but Nani’s penalty made it a perfect 5-for-5 for Orlando to win the shootout and the game.

I think a penalty shootout means not much separated the sides, and that was certainly true in this case. I think LAFC were not at their best, but full credit to Orlando for dictating the game most of the way and seeing it out ultimately. LAFC should be disappointed, but when it’s a 90-minute game (following by penalties) you never know what can happen, and LAFC didn’t have quite enough to move on in the end.

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