On a night when it looked like LAFC may let a lead and a penalty attempt slip through their fingers once again, they came through in the end, as they defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 at The Banc on Saturday.
The win is LAFC’s third in a row, as their stars Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela provided the much-needed goals on the night and the defense held firm after a first-half miscue on a long counterattack by the visitors.
Bob Bradley ran it back for his LAFC lineup, rolling with the same group that won the last game, 10 days earlier against Austin FC. Brian Rodriguez and Diego Palacios were both on the bench.
LAFC pushed early for the opener, with Vela testing RSL GK David Ochoa in the opening minutes with a trademark curler. Moments later Ochoa was forced into a double save off a recirculated corner kick.
But Rossi found the opener in the 10th minute, as he executed a great give-and-go into the box with Jose Cifuentes to make it 1-0 to LAFC.
But Aaron Herrera tied up the game on a jailbreak counterattack in the 18th minute, the RSL defender making the run and taking a feed from Everton Luiz to make it 1-1.
Vela nearly had a goal in the 37th minute, as Eduard Atuesta’s free kick attempt was blocked by the wall, before Vela tried to smash in the rebound, his attempt clanging off the post.
Imagine if Carlos Vela scored this. pic.twitter.com/FIEC4euBIV— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 18, 2021
LAFC could have taken the lead again just before halftime, after Kim Moon-hwan had a wonderful run along the endline, keeping a dead play alive, but after sending a terrific pass to a wide-open Cifuentes, the midfielder’s shot was inches wide of the mark. The teams went into halftime with the score knotted at 1-1.
Damir Kreilach nearly scored shortly after the opening kickoff in the 2nd half for RSL but Tomas Romero and Jesus David Murillo recovered enough to keep him out of the goal.
LAFC drew a penalty just before the hour mark, for a handball by Herrera, but Vela’s spot kick attempt was saved by Ochoa, which was certainly unfortunate.
But Vela often makes up for his penalty miscues and he did it again here, when he took a switch from Kim, chested it down and scored from an audacious angle to give LAFC the 2-1 lead in the 79th minute.
Carlos. Vela. Golazo.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 18, 2021
That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/U8k4fp6v2Y
Vela had a shot clang off the post in the 84th minute that would have sealed the result, but it was just off and the crowd didn’t blow the canopy off the stadium, though they were poised to.
Ochoa had a monster game for RSL, but LAFC’s stars showed up when the team needed them to, making seven saves including the penalty stop. But LAFC had the edge in play all night, and when they needed that little bit of quality, their biggest stars stepped up, especially Vela, who again made up for a poor penalty take.
LAFC are set to hit the road for their next game, Wednesday against the Portland Timbers. They have a contentious history against each other, so we’ll see what the midweek clash brings.
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