By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
The Los Angeles Football Club returns to its old winning ways in a close 4-3 victory; defeating the reigning MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United for the first time in franchise history at the Banc of California stadium.
The win is great. But it was a close call.
A slight change in the starting XI saw Pablo Sisniega in goal. And with Tristian Blackmon on the injury list, Steven Beitashour returned to the full back position on the right. Head Coach Bob Bradley was vague in the reasoning of why Tyler Miller was on the bench – we can only assume he’s testing both keepers at this point.
The match kicked off with LAFC watching hopelessly as Atlanta scored the opening goal within minutes of the whistle. Mo Adams struck in the rebound – marking his first goal in his first MLS appearance for the visitors.
The black-and-gold answered in a big way by scoring three goals in a 12-minute action-packed period.
Mark-Antony Kaye sent the through ball to Adama Diomande who tapped it home past Brad Guzan for the equalizer in the 33rd minute. And then things got fun.
In the 38th minute, Diego Rossi passed the ball through traffic from the middle to Carlos Vela, who then sent it back to him at the top of the box – Rossi sent it home with one touch to double the lead.
Four minutes later, Carlos Vela drew the penalty. The captain stepped up to convert – scoring his 22nd MLS-career goal.
The captain found Diomande in the penalty area. He sent it to a waiting Atuesta near the goal – who in true Eduard Atuesta style, smoothly turned and shot it home for the club’s fourth goal of the night.
Then here comes Atlanta’s Josef Martinez to kill the party doubling the visitor’s total just before the half. How rude.
Shortly after the restart, Atlanta was quick to put the pressure on a possession-dominating home side – forcing an unfortunate own goal by Eddie Segura that gave Atlanta the push they needed in the 51st minute increasing the score 4-3.
Ten minutes later, it seemed Atlanta would level the match when Martinez attempted to recreate the “Atuesta” and spin around Beitashour. But as the script says, the ball went wide of the net.
Lee Nguyen entered the pitch as a substitute for Beitashour in the 63rd minute and got straight to work with moves like these:
In the 84th minute, the MLS All-Star Walker Zimmerman was close to adding one of his own goals to the total with the header but Guzan was there to save it.
Defenders are expected to sacrifice their bodies for the club and Jordan Harvey did just that in the 89th minute. The 30-year-old made a diving block to deny Julian Gressel who had a clear shot on target.
Atlanta had five chances to equalize and escape with a point during the latter part of the half. But thankfully an energetic team and Sisniega saved the day – leading the black-and-gold to another victory and staying undefeated at home with a 9-0-1 record.
Still sitting atop of the table of the Western Conference, the black-and-gold cushioned their lead even more with 49 points. But it is clear the team still needs to work on defending as the road gets harder.
Next up. LAFC will travel to the east coast to visit the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium next Saturday, August 3.
Featured Image: @LAFC
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