LAFC were back at home after successful trip in Utah where they scored four goals and secured all three points against Real Salt Lake. This week, the team played host to expansion side, Charlotte FC, who might occupy the bottom half of the Eastern Conference, but are still dangerous team on their day. For the black and gold, a win furthered solidifies their spot at the top, as pesky Austin FC stay hot on their heels.
The first half was a tactical chess match between the two squads. Charlotte FC came out strong with a nice press, but after a few minutes of settling, LAFC were able to find success in counter-attacks and working their way through said press. Charlotte then backed off, and LAFC turned up the pressure to end the half, but alas, both sides went into the halftime break scoreless.
LAFC finished the half with far more shots, 11-4, but only had two on target while Charlotte found the target just once in the half. The one chance they did have however, was kept out by another highlight save from newcomer, Max Crépeau. Corner kicks were even with LAFC holding the slim 3-2 edge heading into the break.
LAFC are very much a second-half team this season, and that only continued tonight. Shortly into the second half, LAFC found their go-ahead goal. Chiqi Palacios put on the most precise, perfect pass you'll see this season, putting a goal on a silver platter for Jesús Murillo who headed it in with ease to take the lead.
The team didn't wait long to double the lead and take full control of this match at home. In the 59th minute the team had another opportunity off a corner kick, and this one came off perfectly. The Charlotte keeper found himself out of the net, having missed the save attempt, watching Cifuentes take hold of the ball and send a rocket into the open net for the second goal of the night.
The team exploded again late in the second half with two quick goals. First, it was the king himself, Carlos Vela, who timed the run perfectly and found all the space after another perfect pass, this time from Cifu. The left-footed assassin didn't need an invitation and scored the team's third goal of the night.
The fourth goal was vintage LAFC, which for a team only five-years old is wild to say, but it was a goal scored in the style we all have come to know and love from this squad. Tons of precise passing in the box, touching several players before eventually finding Arango who thrusted the dagger with the fourth goal of the night and LAFC were on track for another massive win.
Just one of those nights for Charlotte, with LAFC scoring a fifth in the final minutes of the match. Latif Blessing took the keeper on, found his shot, and took it. The defender tried to keep it out at the line, but ended up putting it in for what was ruled an own goal, though Blessing rightfully took center stage with the celebration.
The rest of the MLS should be really worried in all honesty. LAFC with a second-straight match of more than three goals scored, winners of six straight as it stands, but more than that, they just look and feel like an improved squad. A team that was already one of, if not the best in the league this season, has seemingly found yet another level as the postseason approaches. The win tonight isn't just three points, but a bit of security, as the team remain six points clear at the top of the Western Conference. The postseason push is on, and the time for sending messages has arrived. LAFC plan on doing all their talking on the pitch, and boy have they been loud lately.
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