LA Football Club Keeps on Winning
July 11, 2019
And it may only get better. Midway past the 2019 MLS season, Los Angeles Football Club is seriously threatening a number of league standards. Reiterating that effort is LAFC captain and forward Carlos Vela leading the charge while moving the needle closer to his quest for the league's MVP and Golden Boot awards.
Last week, LAFC continued its storied run by trouncing Sporting Kansas City, 5-1, on the road. They returned to Banc of California Stadium to thrash the Vancouver Whitecaps, 6-1 on Saturday night, July 6. The Black and Gold also became the quickest team to score 100 points since 2000, when the penalty shootout era was scrapped.
"It's an important win for us. We weren't satisfied with the result in Colorado," stated LAFC head coach Bob Bradley on beating
Sporting KC. "We've been on the road now for some days so just to get the three points, that part was great. I think the mentality of the group was really good."
This Wednesday, July 10, LAFC hosts the Portland Timbers in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals match at the Banc. Coincidentally, LAFC beat the Timbers in the Open Cup quarterfinals, 3-2, last year before being eliminated in a semifinal shootout loss to Houston Dynamo, 7-6. In MLS action this season LAFC beat Portland, 4-1 at home, March 10, and ruined the Timbers' grand reopening of Providence Park in Portland, 3-2, June 1.
Since that loss the Timbers are one of the hottest teams in MLS, having won five and lost one in their last six matches. Their last two victories were 1-0 affairs: at home against FC Dallas and a quality win at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC. It was NYCFC's first loss of the year at home. LAFC (8-0-1) and Seattle Sounders FC (7-0-2) are the only clubs remaining without a loss at home this season.
LAFC (13-2-4 overall record) has scored 102 goals in 53 league games since its very successful inaugural effort last year at 16-9-9. Statistically and by the eye test, they boast the best offense and defense in the league this season. Their 50 goals scored is 11 more than nearest competitor, Philadelphia Union. They also lead with 48 assists, scoring differential at +34, 355 attempted shots, 130 shots on goal... and fewest goals allowed with 16.
LAFC avenged their 1-0 defeat earlier this season to the Vancouver Whitecaps with a second-half blitzkrieg. The Caps lone score gave them a 1-0 lead in the 5th minute. A calculated blunder and miscommunication between center back Dejan Jakovic and goalkeeper Diego Sisniega allowed Whitecaps forward Yordy Reyna to easily roll an empty-netted goal.
Bradley: "There was a misunderstanding early but the response was awesome. We kept playing football. I loved the fact that Pablo and Dejan just had a quick word with each other and continued."
Carlos Vela's corner kick in the 35th minute was the equalizer, finding the back of the net, courtesy of Caps defender Andy Rose's own goal. Six minutes later striker Adama Diomande placed a textbook header inside the far post from another Vela corner kick for a 2-1 LAFC halftime lead. Vancouver's altered defense with five deep had few answers as LAFC took 15 shot attempts in the first half.
The second half was a literal blur as the Black and Gold relentless attack produced four more goals, all worth distinction. Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye blasted one home in the 46th minute near the top of the penalty box. Eight minutes later Vela produced more magic on a deft long pass from midfielder Eduard Atuesta. Vela dribbled one-on-one into his favorite slot before deflecting a hard shot inside the right post.
"We're in a good moment. We've only lost two games in 19 games. That's a good record," said Vela. "The important thing for us is that we want more. We know that if we don't win the MLS Cup then this doesn't mean anything."
In the 70th minute Vela's playful side header off a high rebound gave him a league-leading 19 goals this season. His 12 assists also lead the league, ahead of NYCFC's Maximiliano Moralez (11) and Portland's Diego Valeri (10). Vela leads in shot attempts (99), shots on goal (41) and the revealing goals scored on the road with 11. Teammate forward Diego Rossi is second with six road goals.
Two minutes later Rossi scored his 10th goal of the season, finishing up a barrage with a ricochet off the bottom of the crossbar. Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and the Whitecaps were shell-shocked. LAFC outshot Vancouver 31-5 and possessed 67% of the ball while doubling the Caps in total passes, 684-339.
"We have high standards for ourselves so you look at our performance versus Sporting where we didn't play our best game and scored five goals. Then you look at tonight where it was a different game and we were able to get one more goal," said Mark-Anthony Kaye.
"We're a very attacking team and we want to be perfect in certain situations. Perfection is hard to get and we're going to keep pushing for that. It's nice to score goals and we're going to get better."
The upcoming schedule remains quick and challenging including Wednesday's match versus Portland. LAFC travels to Houston to take on the Dynamo at BBVA Stadium this Friday, July 12. Houston, 7th in the Western Conference with 27 points, has lost five of their last six matches, including a 3-2 loss last Saturday at FC Cincinnati.
One week later features the most anticipated match of the season. The Black and Gold motor down the freeway (or two) to take on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the L.A. Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, 7:00 p.m., Friday, July 19. The Galaxy (11-7-1) currently own the third best record in MLS with 34 points. The rematch is scheduled at the Banc, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, August 25.