LAFC continued to struggled to unlock Seattle’s defense, but they were fully in the game until the game-changing penalties, coming four minutes apart, left LAFC in the same spot as their previous loss against the Sounders — very much second-best and unable to get back into the game.
Bob Bradley opted for a familiar lineup to start the game, with Latif Blessing again at right back and Dejan Jakovic in central defense, Tristan Blackmon unavailable again with injury.
The teams were pretty lively in the opening minutes, with Pablo Sisniega making a reflex save in the eighth minute to block Jordan Morris’ header from a corner kick to keep it 0-0.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in the 14th minute, after Diego Rossi’s shot was saved, but Wright-Phillips was offside in the initial approach and the goal was waived off.
But the Sounders got the lead in the 29th minute, as Nicolas Lodeiro scored from the penalty spot after Dejan Jakovic handled the ball and a VAR check uncovered an obvious offense there.
It happened all over again four minutes later, as Lodeiro scored again from the spot, after Latif Blessing was whistled for bringing a Sounders player down in the box. Unlike the first call, that one looked pretty iffy, but it was a penalty and just like that, LAFC were down 2-0 again to the Sounders.
Eduard Atuesta was brought in at halftime for Francisco Ginella, with LAFC desperately in need of stability and composure in the midfield, and Andy Najar replaced Wright-Phillips, slotting in at right back with Blessing moving upfield.
Rossi took contact to the head just before the hour mark, knocking heads with Sounders defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade and was evaluated on the field for several minutes. He continued play, however.
LAFC tried to push for a goal throughout the second half, but Seattle’s deep block defense is outstanding and was again on this occasion, as they stymied LAFC time and again. The Sounders almost scored on a counterattack against the run of play just before the 80th minute, but emergency defending from Najar and a key stop from Sisniega kept the game 2-0 and just within reach for LAFC.
But the Sounders put the game away in the 82nd minute when Raul Ruidiaz hit a trademark sharp, low shot to beat Sisniega and that was curtains.
It’s a frustrating result for LAFC, who have now lost five of their last seven games. The attack couldn’t get on the board, and while the overall level of play was much better than the last time LAFC played the Sounders, they were still lacking the killer instinct. Overall, the defense failed them again, as the penalty calls may have been controversial but in my eyes only one was really a controversial call and the Sounders scored another goal from the run of play. The crisis isn’t over yet for the black-and-gold.
LAFC are next in action Wednesday, when they’ll host the Vancouver Whitecaps for the teams’ first meeting of the season. Vancouver have struggled again this year, but they beat LAFC last year, so no games off, right?
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