LAFC Clinch The MLS Playoffs!

After a surprising loss to Chicago Fire last weekend, LAFC found their groove again in Colorado and came away with a 3-0 win versus the Rapids. However, this was not an ordinary win. The historic victory resulted in LAFC clinching the 2018 MLS Playoffs and becoming only the fifth expansion team to do so in MLS history. In a match that seemed more like a scrimmage due to the lack of intensity from Colorado, LAFC took care of business but should have scored at least three more goals. Nonetheless, three points and a playoff spot is not a bad day’s work.

LAFC started the game with an attack-minded formation and it showed in the first quarter-hour of the match with five shots on goal. In the 5th minute, Diego Rossi received a pass from AdamaDiomande just outside the box. Rossi, with just the goalie to beat, dribbled inside the box and took a shot that just went wide right.

Colorado was pressured high in their own half by LAFC, resulting in turnovers and no shots on goal in the first 45 minutes. With that being said, Tyler Miller was not required to make a save until the second half due to a mixture of poor offense by the Rapids and excellent defending LAFC’s backline.

Speaking of the backline, Walker Zimmerman went up for a corner kick in the 15th minute. Aaron Kovar executed a left-footed cross and after a slight deflection from a Rapids defender, Zimmerman headed in the opening goal of the match and his third of the season. With all his goals coming off headers from corner kicks, Zimmerman has been added as a weapon for LAFC to use in set pieces. This will be crucial in close games coming up.

After the opening goal, Colorado tried to respond with KellynAcosta almost scoring directly off a corner kick as his shot hit the crossbar. The home side did not create much danger in attack and just when they were finally settling into the game, LAFC countered.

Lee Nguyen got a steal in midfield and dribbled the ball forward before finding Diomande making a run across the box. The pass from Nguyen was so perfect that Dio did not have to control it. Dio then swung his left foot around the ball and put it past Tim Howard for the second goal of the match. It was 2-0 at halftime.

The second half started just like the first with LAFC attacking in full-effect. In the 47th minute, Kovar got his second assist of the night after dishing a pass to another great run from Dio. The goal was almost identical to the first, but this time Dio struck the ball with his right foot past Howard.

Twelve games had to go by before Dio could score again for LAFC. Although five of those games he was out injured, it was great to see Dio back in form connecting with his team mates. The two goals for Dio could not have come at a better time as he looks to build on this performance into the playoffs.

Diomande joins Carlos Vela as the leaders of the team in goals with 11 each. Rossi is not far behind with 10 of his own. LAFC have an attacking trio of envy and between all 3 have scored 50% of the team’s goals this season.

Rossi had at least two more clear goal-scoring opportunities to increase LAFC’s margin but failed to do so. Andre Horta came on to the match for the last 20 minutes and showed flashes of what he can provide for this team, including a magnificent individual run that almost finished in a goal. DejanJakovic also came in for an injured Danilo Silva and Marco Urena got some minutes to give Dio a rest.

The game ended 3-0 and Miller got his 10th clean sheet of the season thanks to a great defensive team effort along with Colorado’s helpless performance. In addition, LAFC also got another clean sheet in a different department. For the third consecutive match, LAFC did not receive a single yellow card. This shows that the team is disciplined and is focused on just playing soccer.

With this result, LAFC remain in 3rd place of the Western Conference with only three games left to play. The good news for LAFC is that of the three games yet to play, two of them will be at home where they have only lost once.

If LAFC win all three games remaining, they will be guaranteed a first-round bye in the playoffs along with home field advantage for the conference semifinals. As fans, we have to support the club to the fullest, especially in the last two home games. The last game in Kansas City will most likely determine whether LAFC get a first-round bye or have to play knockout match.

-Benjamin Virgen

September 24, 2018

Follow me on Twitter @lafcbenjamin to talk soccer, ask questions or send comments. Thank you for reading and Stay Golden!

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