LAFC were back home for a brief respite during the five-match long road trip. They welcomed the always intriguing Real Salt Lake, who came into this one looking to cement their place in the postseason and avoid all the chaos in the fight for the final spot. LAFC were trying to shake off the three match losing streak, and get back to winning ways before the postseason arrives.
New arrival, Denis Bouanga, made his first start for the black and gold, while Gareth Bale and Carlos Vela started this one on the bench. The first half ended without a goal, but it wasn't without its moments. As expected, RSL came out in their familiar low block defense, absorbing the pressure from LAFC, while looking to attack on the counter.
The half ended with more possession (61%) for LAFC, as well as more shots (7) to RSL just managing to get one look at goal. Despite the high shot count, LAFC were unable to find the back of the net in the first 45. If the team wanted to get back in the win column, they would have to do so with another strong second half.
It didn't take long for the second-half surge to hit for LAFC. Just three minutes into the half the league-leading scorer for defenders, Ryan Hollingshead, added another to his tally, and gave the home side the lead to start the final 45.
Because one goal is almost never enough in the MLS, LAFC decided the smart thing to do was double the lead, and in the 68th minute, they did just that. A great pass found an open Arango in the box who hit the keeper with a nice little pump fake, as he tapped in one on what was essentially an open net. The goal marked six goals across seven matches for the Colombian who doesn't know how to go 90 minutes without scoring!
A penalty awarded in the 89th minute, but LAFC failed to capitalize. Carlos Vela stepped up to the spot, but had his shot saved. In the end, it didn't matter for the result, with LAFC taking the full three points with the 2-0 shutout win. The win puts the team level with Philadelphia Union on points in the race for the Supporter's Shield, but it also extends their place atop the Western Conference, to nine points over Austin FC.
It all comes down to the final handful of matches, and while LAFC have their postseason spot secured, they still have to work hard and get wins if they want to secure a second Supporter’s Shield, but more importantly, if they want to take that next step to becoming MLS Cup Champions.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!