LA Football Club Ends with Draw Against Portland
July 19, 2018
By Fred Altieri
The Los Angeles Football Club has yet to lose at home in its inaugural MLS season. Thanks to goalkeeper Tyler Miller and a focused transition defense LAFC fought visiting Portland Timbers to a 0-0 draw on a hot Sunday afternoon before another sold-out crowd, July 15 at Banc of California Stadium.
“Tight, hard game. They played with five in the back, and then obviously, three midfielders in front,” said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. “Our ability to then break them down in the final moments, I thought some of our ideas we’re good, I saw that sharpness that maybe makes a play when things are really tight.”
Portland had excellent scoring opportunities early on but Miller was spot on. Seconds into the 5th minute LAFC defender Benny Feilhaber had his pocket picked attempting to clear the ball from the penalty area. Timbers forward Diego Valeri moved inside and pushed the ball towards the right post. Miller pounced and deflected the shot with his outstretched left paw.
"Those are emotional plays that can really change a game. I wasn't happy with how much time Benny took on the ball,” said Miller. “But I mean that’s part of the game and that's why I am there. I am just doing my job, honestly. I get paid to be back there and make saves when they are needed.”
“And Benny thanked me for it, but it’s just part of it. They’re the guys that bailed me out this year and I'm always there to help bail them out when they need it. It's a team sport. It’s a team game and we are going to have each other’s back no matter what.”
With the temperature still in the 80’s due to the 3:00 p.m. start, hydration breaks were allotted in each half. Portland midfielder Diego Chara seemed to thrive in the heat, completing 93% of his 53 passes and winning 8/11 of his duels. Portland just edged out LAFC in total duels, 53-52.
Chara: “It’s hard for both teams, today the temperature was high. But, I feel we did a good job today and I think, on defense, we did a very good job. We created some opportunities, but today, we weren’t effective.”
LAFC dominated in corner kicks, 11-2, and controlled the ball 56.1% of the match. They had 13 goal shots to Portland’s 11. Both teams had six shots on target. LAFC led in crosses, 28-8, and passed the ball 568 times with and 88% passing accuracy compared to Portland’s 453 passes and 82% accuracy.
LAFC played with 10 men for the final 13 minutes (6 in regulation time, 7 in stoppage time) of the match as midfielder Lee Nguyen picked up a red card with a hard challenge on Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco.
“… when we went down a man, we had both Marco (Ureña) and (Adama) Diomande on the field, so we left them both as strikers. Carlos (Vela) and Latif (Blessing) tucked in closer to Mark-Anthony (Kaye), so defensively at times, it looked like a 4-3-2,” said Bradley.
“In attack, we still wanted Carlos and Latif to be moving forward, and then we felt that we could still handle things with the other five. We were still looking for ways to create chances, and Carlos’ header came when we were down a man.”
Carlos Vela, playing right forward, made his first start since returning from World Cup duties with the Mexican national team. His best scoring opportunity came in the 94th minute (stoppage time), placing a header on a cross from defender Steven Beitashour. Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was positioned for the late-game save.
“We forced Vela wide, making sure that he stays wide and isn’t coming inside, and that was effective. From another standpoint, I think he did a good job, he found the ball a lot of times,” said
Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese.
Both teams will dress up once again at the Banc of California Stadium this Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., this time for a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match.
“They’re well coached, well organized, they have a lot of talent and I think they’re one of the better teams in the West, for sure. It was a good test for us today, and we’ll look forward to playing them again on Wednesday,” said LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman.
Vela: “Everything is going in a good direction, so now it’s time to finish the job, now it’s time to show we’re a good team. We want to make a hard impact in the first season so this is the moment to be a good team and I hope we can show it Wednesday.”
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Quarterfinal Matches: Philadelphia Union hosts Orlando City SC; Chicago Fire hosts Louisville City; Houston Dynamo hosts Sporting Kansas City. LAFC hosts Portland Timbers. Louisville City (United Soccer League) is the only non-Major League Soccer club remaining in the tournament. Sporting Kansas City won the 2017 title, beating the New York Red Bulls in the final, 2-1.
LAFC (10-4-5) is currently in second place in the Western Conference with 35 points in 19 games and 5-0-4 at home. FC Dallas (11-3-5) remains in first with 38 points. The Portland Timbers (8-3-6) are in fourth place with 30 points. Despite the scoreless tie LAFC remains the second highest scoring team in the league with 41 goals. They are tied for 10th in goals allowed with 28.