LAFC and Seattle play to a tie
April 29, 2021
In this case, the 1-1 draw between Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders was a fitting result at Banc of California Stadium last Saturday afternoon, April 24. It was only the second tie in the total 11 matches between the two MLS rivals that began in 2018. Both teams remain undefeated with four points and tied for second place behind the L.A. Galaxy in the Western Conference. LAFC next travels to Houston to take on the Dynamo this Saturday, May 1.
"Hard-fought game. I liked our mentality. I felt that the concentration to really stay in the game against a good team was at a high level," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "It's not an easy game to compare to some others but I think in terms of both teams going hard at each other, physically we held up really well. We competed for balls, we won duels."
Midfielder Eduard Atuesta gave LAFC an instant lead, converting a free kick in the 2nd minute of the match inside the left post, easily beating Seattle veteran goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Atuesta rolled a beautiful grounder under the Sounders wall that leaped anticipating a high bender to the opposite right post where Frei had set up.
"Seattle is a tough team," said Atuesta. "They're among the best in the league as well, but I think we were able to work very well against them here at home, dominate with the ball. There were details that we can improve upon, but seeing everything... we couldn't get the three points we wanted.
LAFC was again without the services of its two best offensive weapons: forwards Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Vela only played 22 minutes in the 2-0 season opening win over Austin FC last week before being replaced as a cautionary measure for a quad strain suffered in the match. Rossi also missed the home opener due to a hamstring condition.
"(Carlos Vela) had a slight quad strain and he hasn't trained all week. Then, there was a family situation and it led to that the one day he couldn't get tested, and then when you're not tested then you get on that other list," said Bradley, addressing Vela's situation."
"He'll be back on the testing schedule. But, again, had there been no family situation, he was not ready to play this week. The quad has kept him out of training all week. It's minor. We're hoping that maybe he'll be back this week. Same with Diego but we'll have to see, go day-to-day."
Playing their standard 4-3-3 formation, LAFC's starting front line featured a brand new set: Corey Baird, Kwadwo Opoku with Jose Cifuentes at the striker position. By the end of the match they had been replaced by Bryce Duke, Cal Jennings and Fransicso Ginella, respectively. The six players combined for a total of four shot attempts with Cifuentes the only one credited with a shot-on-goal.
LAFC's attack and movement was generated from the reliable midfield of Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Latif Blessing. Defender Marco Farfan started his first game for the Black and Gold at right back, joining Diego Palacios, Eddie Segura and Jesus Murillo in the back line. Pablo Sisniego, who threw a shutout in the opener, finally relinquished his first goal of the season to Sounder defender Brad Smith in 54th minute.
"I came in very excited to make my Black and Gold debut. It wasn't the three points we wanted but I'm happy to make my debut and just keep moving forward," said Farfan. "Obviously, I'm a left-footed left back, but whenever I'm on the right I should also be comfortable playing on the right so I give the team more options. Bob and the coaching staff have really been helping me throughout these weeks, specifically on the details... I think I was pretty used to it going into this game and thought I was ready for it."
Duke, who substituted for Baird in the 64th minute remained upbeat despite the draw: "Unfortunately, we didn't end up getting the result... We definitely created a few chances. So, I feel like we did that pretty well today and we're just going to keep moving forward and kind of working on the small things to get the results in the future."
"We definitely had some guys out with injuries... but we had a bunch of guys who were ready for the call-up like I said before. We have a good group, everyone's ready to step on the field and give it their all. I feel like the guys who had the opportunity today, such as myself, did a pretty good job and put in a good shift today."
LAFC has four wins, two draws and one loss in the seven previous matches with the Houston Dynamo. Last season, LAFC rallied from a 3-1 deficit to draw a 3-3 result from Houston during the MLS is Back Tournament held in Orlando, Florida. The Black and Gold won the second match, 2-1, in the final match of the regular MLS season at the Banc. Rossi and Segura each scored to give LAFC a 2-0 lead by the 22nd minute.
Bradley insists the team will be ready for Houston, regardless of who's on the pitch for LAFC: "We pride ourselves on the way we train every day. We always try to push players so that when the moment comes, they're ready, they're excited, their teammates have confidence in them. Those situations come up, sure there's positives and it's good to see certain guys on the field. You see the experience and you see them paying off and them getting better every day in training and then you get to test it on the field in the game."