LA Football Club Seeks Payback Against Salt Lake City
March 21, 2019
Last November, LAFC was unceremoniously knocked out in the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs by Real Salt Lake, 3-2, at Banc of California Stadium. The upset left a bad taste that lingered throughout the winter following a most successful inaugural season for the Black and Gold. This Saturday, LAFC can begin the payback against Real.
LAFC returns to Banc of California Stadium this Saturday with a 2-0-1 record in the early 2019 season, tied for second place with seven points behind Western Conference leader, Seattle Sounders FC with nine points at 3-0-0. LAFC opened the season with a pair of 2-1 wins at home before rallying to tie New York City Football Club, 2-2, last Sunday in Yankee Stadium.
"Overall, I think that we handled it pretty well, certainly not our best day of football, but you need a mentality to deal with different factors and I thought that was a plus," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "I thought we adjusted well at halftime and had a good push in the second half."
LAFC captain Carlos Vela scored both goals to secure the well-deserved draw at NYCFC. The forward took a pass from Latif Blessing to tie the score at 1-1 just before halftime on a well-placed shot in the far corner of the goal past goalkeeper Sean Johnson. NYCFC midfielder and team captain Alexander Ring gave New York a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute.
14 minutes later Blessing drew a foul in the penalty box by NYCFC midfielder Ben Sweat. Vela promptly placed the game-tying penalty kick in the left corner for the game-tying goal. Vela leads the team with three goals scored in three games. Forward Adama Diomande has two scores while Ramirez, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Diego Rossi each have one goal.
"It was not the best day in terms of the way we play or the way we control the game but always positive to get points on the road," said Vela. "I am trying to be the leader of this team, and in situations like that on not good days and not good moments, I have to be there for my team."
One surprising element to the cold weather was the number of LAFC supporters in Yankee Stadium. The 3252 fan supporters appear to travel well as their visiting Los Angeles chants dominated the hometown's cheering throughout the match.
"It's amazing," said LAFC defender Jordan Harvey. "I was surprised to see how many were up there. I'd like to know the numbers but we could hear them from the moment we stepped on the pitch until the end, so we really appreciate it."
Against Real Salt Lake in the 2018 Playoffs LAFC took a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute on Christian Ramirez' goal. Four minutes later the fans were subdued when Damir Kreilach of RSL scored the equalizer. 11 minutes later the stadium was stunned when Real Salt Lake took the lead on a deflection off LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman. The own goal buried the game and the season.
Real Salt Lake arrives at Banc of California Stadium this Saturday night for the 7:30 start with a 1-1-1 record. RSL began the 2019 season with a 1-1 tie at Houston Dynamo and a 1-0 home opening win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC. However, they took a 5-0 beating at D.C. United last Saturday, partially as a result of playing with nine players in the second half due to receiving two red cards.