Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

LA Football Club Unbeaten Streak Continues

Will Celebrate Pride Night This Friday

 

George Lasse

Los Angeles Football Club defender Walker Zimmerman (left) watches as LAFC Goalie Tyler Miller flattens Dallas attacker Michael Barrios to keep the 2-0 shutout against Dallas last week.

The Los Angeles Football Club, still riding at the top of the 2019 Supporters' Shield standings in quest for Major League Soccer's best record, will host its 2nd Annual Pride Night on this Friday, May 24. Montreal Impact, currently third place in the MLS Eastern Conference, will be visiting the Black and Gold at Banc of California Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

LAFC, with 9-1-4 record and 31 points, hopes to extend its home unbeaten streak to eight this season. They won their first five matches at home, then had a scoreless 0-0 draw the next with Chicago Fire before delivering a 2-0 shutout over FC Dallas last Thursday night for a 6-0-1 home record. Both teams faced off again in Dallas to complete the back-to-back series, a 1-1 draw on Sunday, May 19.

Friday's LAFC Pride Night is in conjunction with MLS's Soccer For All campaign, signifying that everyone is welcome to MLS, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. The first 10,000 fans through the gates will receive a rainbow captain's armband. The 3252 Fan Supporters Union will also celebrate with rainbow smoke and a Pride themed presentation.

Montreal Impact (6-5-3) have somehow managed to keep their heads above water for most the early season despite winning consecutive matches only once this season. They have dipped in their last four, winning once, drawing once and losing twice. Their 0-0 draw at home last Saturday against hapless New England Revolution was depressing. Their 2-1 loss the previous game to first-year fledgling FC Cincinnati was worse.

Montreal will be playing without one of their stalwart midfielders, Samuel Piette, against LAFC. He will have his club-record 51 consecutive starts streak snapped for receiving his fifth yellow card of the 2019 season during their draw with New England on Saturday. Midfielders Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider lead the team in scoring with three goals each.

In the tale of the tape LAFC is dominating the Impact in total goals scored, 32-15, as well as in goals conceded, 9-19. Offensively, LAFC has 206 total shots (90 shots on target) to Montreal's 110 (48 shots on target). The Black and Gold 23-plus goal differential leads the league by far. The Impact's minus-4 differential is tied for seventh worse in the MLS.

LAFC earned four points in back-to-back contests against FC Dallas last week. LAFC's leading scorers, Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi each had a goal in last Thursday's 2-0 victory at Banc of California Stadium. Vela scored his MLS-leading 13th goal of the season in the 39th minute while Rossi added the clincher in the 83rd minute.

"I think the first half was really good. We pressed in a high intensity but the second half was difficult to continue in the same pace," said Vela. We tried but sometimes the legs were not in the same direction. But after that, we talked about being smart and waiting for more chances..."

LAFC head coach Bob Bradley: "For him (Vela), he's set the standard and I think everybody else see's it. We also, as a team, feel good about the kind of football we try to play and the idea is to keep seeing if we can get better." There were several hard fouls by FC Dallas including a very late sliding tackle on Vela, which did not please Bradley.

FC Dallas chose to play in its own half of the field for much the first half, rarely attempting to push the ball up-field in order to deny LAFC's high-powered offense. The Black and Gold outshot the FC Dallas 27-6 while holding them to zero shots on target compared to six for LAFC. They also led in corners, 9-2, and passing accuracy, 85 to 81 percent.

Sunday's 0-0 draw in the rematch at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas was a frustrating affair according to Bradley. FC Dallas started fouling Vela early, which drew a couple of yellow cards as the referee attempted to maintain control. Dallas received four yellow cards by the 49th minute yet led at halftime, 1-0, on Ryan Hollingshead's goal in the 29th minute.

"Strange game. Not a very good game. It's hard playing the same team back to back like this," said Bradley. "The travel for both teams. On the days when I see a good game and I see good football then I'm pretty excited but today was a frustrating game. You watch guys trying to make plays but no real fluidity, not real sharpness."

George Lasse

Latif Blessing puts one of his patented moves on Dallas' John Nelson.

LAFC had a golden opportunity to tie the match in the 45th minute. Vela had his penalty shot attempt towards the right corner of the goal blocked on a diving save by FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, denying LAFC momentum going into halftime. It would take another 35 minutes with a one-man advantage for LAFC to finally break through.

FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges was issued a red card in the 49th minute, giving LAFC plenty of opportunities to score. The equalizer came when FC Dallas defender Bressan was called for a hand ball on LAFC forward Christian Ramirez' shot attempt inside the penalty box. Vela's penalty kick slipped his game-tying goal into the right corner off of FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez' left hand.

"We had clear chances to win, but we complicated the match on our own," offered Vela, now with 14 goals in 14 matches this season. But they are also a strong team at home that works hard, runs a lot, stops the game, make fouls, knows who is playing and they are a tough opponent."

 

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