Impact vs LAFC review
Yesterday, I got to watch the Impact take on LAFC at the Banc of California Stadium. Even if the team was not physically there, it sure felt like it with the crowd and excitement that was taking place outside and within the stadium. I’ll have more information on the stadium and what it meant to people later on this week, but as your reading this report, try and place yourself in the Banc so you can fully appreciate how much fun watching this game was.
LAFC did not start well. To give up 2 goals in under 20 minutes is not something you want to see. The first goal in the 9th minute was not the worst goal to give up, and honestly, might have been a little bit unlucky. Miller took charge and made a good punch to get the ball out of the box, but the ball went straight to Ignacio Piatti, the Impact’s best player, and he was never going to miss from that spot. Then, 5 minutes later, Piatti drives free into the box, forcing Miller to make the split-second decision if he was going to allow the shot or try and cut the angle down. As we know, he tried to cut the angle, but ended up getting Piatti, and penalty kick. Even though Miller guessed the right way on the penalty, Piatti never had the ball leave the ground, placing it in an almost perfect location. At this point I tweeted out, “uh oh, this game could get out of control”. I was having flash backs to Atlanta United. As I was sitting in my seat, worrying about our form, I had this amazing realization.
The 3252 had not stopped singing or chanting. As if their voices could carry the thousands of miles to Stade Saputo, they kept on jumping, singing, banging their drums, doing anything to root on our team. Their efforts paid off with a moment of magic. The 3252 decided prior to the game that they were going to chant the name of the young man that died earlier this week, Tommy Mark. Mark was a former LAFC academy player and wore number 23. So, in order to pay their respects, they were going to chat in the 23rdminute. In the 23rd minute, our captain, Ciman, number 23 stood over the ball in preparation to take a free kick. And wouldn’t you know it, Ciman scores an absolute laser, placing the ball in the top corner of the net, finally placing LAFC on the scoresheet. There are moments in sports that give me major goosebumps, and this was definitely one of them.
7 minutes later, we should have been on level terms, after Ureña made a great run into the box, still trying to get his first goal. Ureña goes down, an Impact player gets sent off, and we have a penalty. At the time, I was perplexed as to why Ureña was taking the penalty, but looking back on it, a day later, I can understand. They are trying to get him off the mark, since he has been the best player on the field without a goal to his game. Of course, he misses, and then the Impact create more pressure, and Piatti scores a one-timer to complete his 1st half hat-trick. Going into halftime, I felt good knowing that we were going to be a man up and have the best offensive front in the MLS. Again, the 3252 never stopped singing or jumping. Their efforts would pay off in the second half.
The second half was glorious! Blessing came on at the beginning of the second half, and we went into overdrive. LAFC found their wings and soared. We moved faster than the Impact, especially with the both the left and right wings moving the ball deep into the Impact’s zone. LAFC’s second goal of the match was exactly what you should do when you are up a man. Move the ball into the box, pass it around to the open spaces, and buried the ball into the net. Vela finding Ureña, who then found Feilhaber was a great example of what do to, and Feilhaber placed it easily into the top corner. 5 minutes later, the equalizer finally came, with a good corner from Vela to the middle of the box. I’m a big proponent of putting the ball into the box with pace because you never know what is going to happen when the ball starts to bounce around. This time, the ball went off an Impact player, chipping it slowly over the keeper into the net. Right when the ball rippled the net, the Banc blew up, almost sounding like a full stadium. The 3252 where jumping high, hugging on another. At this moment, I realized that a full stadium is going to be insanely loud. Everyone in the stadium went into party mood, fully knowing we had a really good shot at taking 3 points.
The last 10 minutes of the match, LAFC just simply dominated. We were faster, moving the ball quickly, and taking good shots at goal. Rossi went down in the box in the 82nd minute after beating out his defender on the right wing, and Vela went up and calmly based the ball into the net. Blessing put the nail in the coffin right at the 89th minute with his follow up on Ureña’s shot that squibbed through the keeper’s legs. Celebration mode took over around the Banc, everyone knowing that we can come from behind from a couple goals down, a first this season.
Just a couple of notes now that we are finally done with our long road trip. We took 12 points out of 18. With 4 games won on the road, we are placing ourselves into contention all year long. I looked back at the playoff teams last year, and only 4 teams won more than 4 games on the road. As long as we make the Banc a fortress, we are going to have a shot at not only making the playoffs, but hopefully having a higher seed as well. We need to win as many points as possible before the World Cup, so when we lose a few of our guys, we have a point spread we can fall back on. We are also halfway to the MLS expansion record for most wins on the road, set by, you know it, Bob Bradley and the Chicago Fire.
The road trip has been long, but guess what everyone? Our next game is at home! Let’s bring the energy, the excitement, your voices, and your hearts, and cheer on the Black and Gold. Sunday is going to be historic, and I cannot wait!
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