LA Football Club Looks to Avenge New England Draw Beats Atlanta United 4-3
August 1, 2019
Last season, Los Angeles Football Club played to a 1-1 draw against a mediocre New England Revolution team at Banc of California Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the two MLS clubs. LAFC squandered a 1-0 lead by allowing the Revs to tie the match late in the second half. The failure to hold onto leads ultimately was the Black and Gold's Achilles' heel in their inaugural season.
This Saturday LAFC will take on the Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts this Saturday, August 3. The Revs are one of the hottest teams since former L.A. Galaxy and Hall of Fame coach Bruce Arena took over on May 14. They have not lost in 10 league matches since then, winning six and drawing four. With LAFC dominating Major League Soccer this season, it's suddenly an intriguing matchup.
Last Friday at the Banc, LAFC redeemed themselves following the previous week's 4-3 loss to Zlatan and the Galaxy with a well-earned but slightly nervous 4-3 win over the defending MLS Cup Champs, Atlanta United FC. The shaky part for LAFC was a return to last season's form of blowing leads as they barely held on after jumping to a 4-1 first-half lead. A similar performance at New England may not be so kind.
"Great win. We made it crazy at times. There's parts in there that we're not too happy about," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "At the end of the half, we finished the same way we started the half so that was crazy. Exciting win."
New England owner Robert Craft, who hired Arena, stated in May: "We have full confidence that he will raise the level of our club to the standard we all expect and demand." The club has steadily evolved under Arena, winning five of their last six matches. He previously coached a record five MLS Cup titles, three MLS Supporters' Shields, seven MLS conference championships.
The Revolution are led by veteran international midfielder Carles Gil. After eight seasons in the Premier League and La Liga, Gil is leading with eight goals and nine assists in his first year with the club, including a goal scored in each of the last four matches. Revs forward Teal Bunbury has five total goals while forwards Cristian Penilla and Juan Fernando Caicedo have four each.
LAFC's win over Atlanta started off on the wrong foot when United's recently acquired Mo Adams put the finishing touches on a free kick in the 2nd minute of the match. 31 minutes later LAFC started their 12-minute scoring blitz when Adama Diomande threaded a shot past United goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Five minutes later forward Diego Rossi nailed his 12th goal of the season.
Bradley: "Was ridiculous in the first half to start slowly with no concentration to give up a goal right away. After 15 minutes, we really got things going well to get the 4-1."
Leading MVP candidate Carlos Vela converted a penalty kick four minutes later. LAFC appeared to put Atlanta on the rocks when they took a 4-1 lead on midfielder Eduard Atuesta's goal in the 45th minute. Yet two minutes later in stoppage time MVP candidate Josef Martinez gave United a second life with a shot past LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sieniega. It was Martinez' 17th goal of the season, second behind league leader Vela with 22.
"I honestly think we got bullied in the first half. We couldn't get a foot on the ball until the 35th minute," said United midfielder Julian Gressel. "We have to look at ourselves in the mirror down 4-1, maybe they take their foot off the gas. It's always poor starts for us in away games. That's something we have to look at and change because you can't win games giving up four goals on the road."
Things got a little unnerving for LAFC very early in the second half as center back Eddie Segura's own goal in the 51st minute reduced the lead to 4-3. Numerous chances in the next 40-plus gave the 3252 in the supporter's section and Black and Gold fans very anxious moments as Atlanta started to control the possession and tempo. Yet unlike a number of last season's late-match losses and draws, LAFC managed to preserve the victory.
Atuesta commented, "It is important that we won tonight because it gives us that confidence that we have a team and individually. Thankfully we are having a season with a significant lead that allows to make mistakes but also correct them immediately to have a good year."
Atuesta went on to say, "They (Atlanta) are the champions of the MLS. It was a hard game. We showed that we are on the way to be contenders and a champion," said Vela. "These are the type of games that we have to learn to win. It was a good night for us."