LAFC Gets Knocked Out in Quarterfinals
Lose Shootout vs Orlando City
August 6, 2020
LAFC's expectation of playing in the final week of the MLS is Back tournament in Florida were derailed by local darlings Orlando City SC in a 5-4 shootout following a 1-1 tie in regulation in. A stunning equalizer on a corner kick in the 90th minute by Orlando's Joao Moutinho snatched almost certain victory away from the Black and Gold, sending the match into uncertainty and finally pain.
Surprisingly, the Lions of Orlando will now take on Minnesota United FC in Semifinal action. The winner will meet the winner of Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers match for the Championship Final next Tuesday night, August 11. LAFC will regroup in Los Angeles and prepare for whatever schedule the MLS has in store for the remainder of the season. Ultimately, season's fate will be at the mercy of the nation's Covid-19 virus situation.
"We've heard different possibilities but we're not clear," was LAFC manager Bob Bradley's latest update concerning the uncertainty of finishing the 2020 MLS season due to the pandemic. "Go back and I know that we have to have a testing program that continues. Make sure that we can get guys recovered."
"The time here, as I said earlier, our players have handled extremely well. I feel good about the way we went on the field and tried to play our football every match. We'll take the disappointment and we'll try to look at everything and see what comes next and be ready."
With most Major League Soccer clubs having five league matches under their belt for the 2020 season, LAFC is currently fourth in the Western Conference standings with a 2-0-3 record and nine points. FC Dallas and Nashville SC both missed the MLS is Back tournament as their rosters were compromised by multiple positive tests for the Covid-19. Each has only played two league matches so far this season.
"We just didn't do enough all around the field," said LAFC forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. "We wasn't alert enough. Our reactions wasn't great. And we still done enough to get a goal and I think we just got to see it out there." BWP was credited with the first goal against Orlando in the 32nd minute on a short tap-in but was correctly ruled offside upon VAR review.
Officially, Wright-Phillips' negated score would have been LAFC's only shot on goal for the entire first half. Meaning the team that tied the league record for scoring 85 total goals last season failed to manufacture a single shot in a half for the first time ever. Five tournament matches in 19 games had taken its toll as LAFC physically struggled towards the end. Orlando outshot them 17-8 and had over 52% possession of the ball for the match.
Wright-Phillips: "It just wasn't one match. It's obviously something's that maybe the games were building up. I'm not really too sure but every player wasn't as sharp as they could be. It definitely showed up in the first half and it's the reason we don't get the result we want. I think if we're sharper we win that game."
Bradley concurred: "I think you could see from the start, physically we weren't at our best tonight. And so it's a lot of games in a short amount of time. We spoke at halftime to see if we could raise the level a little bit. We did. But it certainly wasn't our sharpest football night, either."
Orlando had a golden opportunity to take a 1-0 second-half lead in the 57th minute when LAFC's Diego Palacios fouled Lion defender Ruan inside the penalty area. But veteran goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer made the critical save, diving to his right to clear Nani's penalty shot attempt. The tide swiftly changed three minutes later when Wright-Phillips finally got his goal, easily punching home Diego Rossi's sharp pass coming off an excellent push to the goal line.
"Kenneth makes the save on Nani in regulation. Then we score. We have a couple of advantages where if we're a little sharper we can get the second goal. And at the end, we just don't defend the corner well. We allowed Joao Moutinho to get in there and more towards the back post, left the space and didn't attack the ball," said Bradley.
"I thought we could still get through and have a little time to recover before the next match. But unfortunately a late goal and then we lose in penalties."
Wright-Phillips concluded: "It's a quarterfinal. Both teams are going to want it. I think they tried to play hard and we're trying the same. I didn't expect anything less."