LAFC go into their mini-break in great form, after notching a second consecutive road win, this time 2-0 over Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday.
Jose Cifuentes continued his stellar run of form in attack with the winning goal, before Diego Rossi scored a late insurance tally as LAFC collected another shutout victory.
Raheem Edwards got his first start for LAFC in this game, with Tomas Romero maintaining his spot as the starting goalkeeper for the visiting team.
Eduard Atuesta got hurt in the first two minutes of the game and needed medical attention, after Daniel Pereira came in hot on a tackle. The Austin FC rookie got a yellow card, and fortunately Atuesta continued in the game.
Romero was tested in the 19th minute, as Austin pushed for the opening goal. Kekuta Manneh tested the goalkeeper at the near post, but Romero got down and made the save to keep Austin off the board.
In the 24th minute, LAFC drew first blood, with an entry pass from Cifuentes finding Carlos Vela wide open, and the captain burying the shot. But a VAR review ruled that Edwards fouled Austin midfielder Alexander Ring in the buildup, and the goal was taken off the board.
But LAFC got the breakthrough in the 39th minute. An LAFC press in the back put Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver under pressure, and he coughed up a turnover in the final third. The ball fell to Kim Moon-hwan, whose shot was saved, before Cifuentes continued his rich vein of form to slot home the rebound to make it 1-0.
The teams went into the break with LAFC leading by a goal. While Austin had a significant edge in possession in the first 45, LAFC had the edge in tangible scoring chances and on balance were good value for that lead.
Austin tried to push for an equalizer in the second half, but LAFC kept it locked down pretty well. Neither team had many good looks in the opening 20 minutes of the half, as the heat and short rest seemed to wear on both teams.
The first change of the game for LAFC came in the 73rd minute, when Tristan Blackmon entered in place of Edwards, who put in a good shift. 10 minutes later, Francisco Ginella replaced Latif Blessing, who looked to have taken a knock or cramped up in the dying minutes.
Rossi got the second goal of the night in the 89th minute, taking a feed from Vela and making no mistake on the breakaway.
Corey Baird was a last-minute sub in stoppage time for LAFC, replacing Cifuentes, who appeared to be cramping himself in the dying moments.
All in all, LAFC seem like they are somewhat running on fumes at the moment, but credit to them for digging deep and finding some traction with this new-look defensive set-up, Romero in between the posts, and games that are far closer than we’re used to. This team remains a work in progress, but it’s amazing what two wins can do for their prospects and I think this team looks and feels a lot better than a couple weeks back.
LAFC get a bye weekend, so they’ll be back in action on Saturday, July 17 when they host Real Salt Lake. While they don’t want to arrest the momentum they’ve got, I think a bit of a rest in this marathon season will do them good and hopefully help them recharge for the next burst of the campaign.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.