After a brief week’s break for International action, LAFC was back on the pitch, and on the road for their MLS return. Looking to stay unbeaten to open up the new season, the black and gold faced tough opposition, and some poor weather, in a rainy Saturday evening match in Orlando, against Orland City SC. The home side, for their part, was looking to keep momentum from their hot start rolling, as they looked to keep pace atop the Eastern Conference. In the end, it was LAFC who kept the unbeaten train rolling with four goals on the night in a massive 4-2 win on the road.
One bit of good news was seeing Chicho Arango back in the starting XI for LAFC. He had been working his way back from a late, preseason injury, so it was great to see him back in the starting lineup and getting a bulk of the minutes. The rainy weather in Orlando didn't hinder the black and gold one bit. In fact, Brian Rodriguez used the pitch as a Slip n’ Slide to get on the end of a beautiful ball put into the box from Chicho Arango. Getting on it just enough to get his foot on the ball and give LAFC the early lead. The goal was Rodriguez’ first of the season for the club.
Orlando wouldn't make it easy on the black and gold, with Alexandre Pato flashing those poacher abilities as he found himself right where he needed to be for the equalizer. A good header back to the Brazilian — who was wide open near the penalty spot — gave him a great look at goal, and he took advantage to even it at one goal each.
The response from LAFC was swift. Mere minutes later, Jesús Murillo showed some great hustle to get on his horse, go on a run, and find a loose ball in the box. He got on the end of it for his first MLS goal, giving LAFC the lead once again.
Former LAFC defender and first-round draft pick, Joao Moutinho, was the one who responded for Orlando City. Defensive breakdown once again let LAFC down as Orlando picked out the perfect pass to find the open man and Moutinho did well to finish. The goal was the last in what was a wild first half. Going into the break level was disappointing for the black and gold, but it was better than going into the break down. Tightening up on defense would be priority number one heading into the second half.
LAFC opened up the second half strong. Not waiting to get on the board with another goal, and another account being opened. Midfielder — and typically the set-up man — Ilie Sánchez found just enough space to fire a shot of his own and found the back of the net for the highlight goal.
After a flurry of goals to start the match, it settled down for the final 30 minutes, then came the added time. Mahala Opoku came off the bench, and was on the end of a wild goal that sealed the deal for the visitors. With advantage on the break, it was a game of hot-potato in the final third until Opoku finally escorted the ball over the line.
Orlando City scored the most goals this LAFC defense has allowed in a match so far this season. With the three points secured LAFC remain unbeaten in 2022, staying atop the Conference standings, with a record of 4-0-1.
Despite all the questions, and change happening around the club during the off-season, this team hasn't let it detour them at all this campaign. A dream start is an understatement. It won't get any easier, as the biggest test for new LAFC Head Coach Steve Cherundolo comes next week as the team travel down the 110 to take on LA rivals, LA Galaxy. For now though, the team can rest well knowing they are well on the road to being ‘back’.
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