LAFC were shutout the first time this season, and after a first half in which they were the better team but found no end product, the Sounders once again had the black-and-gold’s number in the second half and ultimately cruised to victory.
Bob Bradley made one big change to his XI to start the game, with Marco Farfan starting at left back and Diego Palacios going to the bench. Carlos Vela made the trip and started the game on the bench, as expected upon his return from injury.
In the 9th minute, Mark-Anthony Kaye had a great ball over the top to Corey Baird, who chested it down in the box, but he just ran out of room and Seattle GK Stefan Cleveland was able to pounce on the chance before Baird got a shot on the play.
The Sounders had a great look a few minutes before halftime, with Brad Smith — who scored in the first meeting this season between these teams — getting a great look on a transition attempt right in front of goal off a Cristian Roldan pass, but his effort went wide of the mark.
The teams went into the break scoreless, with neither team really playing up to their expected standard. Having said that, LAFC looked better in the first 45, but needed to get more incisive in terms of their chances to have a real hope of breaking down a stellar Sounders defense.
Jose Cifuentes had a decent pinpoint header off a corner kick in the 56th minute, but Cleveland easily caught the shot as it was headed for the top corner, both teams still struggling to get chances, and the Sounders picking up their intensity.
The Sounders got their breakthrough in the 57th minute, however, as Xavier Arreaga scored on a header at the other end off a corner kick, putting LAFC down and out once again.
Vela finally entered the game in the 70th minute, for Cifuentes, and Danny Musovski entered at the same time for Baird, LAFC’s first changes of the night.
Unfortunately, while Vela had a couple touches, Seattle went down to the other end and scored a counterattacking goal in the 73rd minute, Smith heading in Alex Roldan’s cross to give the home side a 2-0 lead.
LAFC’s next two changes came in the 77th minute, with Palacios replacing Farfan, who had his poorest game to date, and Kim Moon-hwan entering for Tristan Blackmon. The changes didn’t make a difference and LAFC struggled to build up any real attack in the dying minutes to test Seattle.
While taking the fair position that the Sounders are the best team in MLS right now, LAFC are not playing remotely like contenders themselves right now. We should give a bit of time for Vela to get some real minutes under his belt and find his fitness, but are we sure at this point that LAFC will be all better as soon as Vela’s fully firing again? The defense isn’t catastrophic, it’s the attack that’s truly letting LAFC down right now, but at the same time, they really aren’t clicking this year. Do they just need a goal to go in off someone’s butt and then their mojo will come back, or is LAFC entering a real crisis, already this season?
LAFC will next hit the field on Saturday, when they are scheduled to host the Colorado Rapids at The Banc. The Rapids are an intriguing side, coming off a big win this weekend, so we’ll see what happens.
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