Ramirez Shines in Much-Needed Win

Almost forty days after their last victory, LAFC returned to winning ways by beating conference rivals Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Wednesday night at Banc of California Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,000. With this win, LAFC catapulted to 3rd place of the Western Conference and are currently only three points behind 1st place.

With the team coming off their first-ever loss at home, the players were looking to avenge that defeat for themselves and for the fans. There was no shortage of motivation and they were going to do everything they could to win the game. Not only did they win, LAFC regained confidence in their style of play and were injected with a huge morale booster that will be much needed in their hunt for a playoff spot.

After an experimental starting XI in the previous match to give some players rest, coach Bob Bradley was able to get his regular starters back on the field for this game. Tyler Miller, Laurent Ciman, Steven Beitashour, Jordan Harvey and Carlos Vela all returned to the starting line-up and boy did it make a difference. Not only did the team look fresh and rested, the chemistry between players had a smooth yet dynamic flow that led to a two-goal lead in the first 30 minutes of the match.

New signing Christian Ramirez got the nod from Bradley as he was included in the starting XI for the first time with LAFC. The forward from Santa Ana, CA had come off the bench in the previous match and only played for 20 minutes. After a few more training sessions, Ramirez and his teammates had built a partnership on the field that would cause wonders for them and nightmares for the opposing defense.

Ramirez scored twice in the first half-hour of the game with assists from Carlos Vela and Eduard Atuesta. Hopefully, this will turn into a common occurrence. At that point, it looked like an avalanche of goals was going to fall for LAFC but for one reason or another, it did not happen. However, it was enough for LAFC to secure a much-needed win at home. When subbed off in the 80th minute, Ramirez received a huge standing ovation from the crowd in one of the loudest I have heard at the Banc yet.

Tyler Miller had an amazing comeback game after being dropped from the starting line-up the game before due to a mixture of questionable performances and rest. Miller made at least three crucial saves during the match and it allowed LAFC to keep control of the game. The goalkeeper completed his 6thclean sheet of the season and is tied for 2nd place in the Western Conference in that category.The fans chanted his name in appreciation after their beloved Tyler made goal-denying saves.

Danilo Silva got his second consecutive start for the club and he showed why. Silva looked sharp from the first minute with aggressive to-the-ball tackles, accurate short and long passing, good positioning and excellent distribution from the back to the midfield.

I am not sure if Walker Zimmerman will see many more minutes this season if Danilo maintains this level of play. Although Zimmerman is a great defender, he is still relatively young at 25. Danilo Silva has vast experience in Europe and it really is evident when he is on the pitch. Zimmerman should learn as much as he can from Silva and hopefully it will improve his game and benefit LAFC in the long run.

LAFC should have won this game by at least five goals but sliding tackles, good goalkeeping and bad luck prevented that from happening. Real Salt Lake did not have a good game at all and took out their frustration on LAFC by committing a whopping 17 fouls and getting 5 yellow cards in the process. On the other hand, LAFC stayed on their feet and only got called for fouls 7 times with 1 yellow card.

With the two goals scored, LAFC are 2nd place overall in MLS when it comes to scoring. Only Atlanta has scored more goals than Los Angeles this season. However, LAFC are only one of two teams that score an average of two goals per game, which is very impressive for an expansion team.

LAFC played attractive, offensive soccer versus Real Salt Lake in a much-needed victory to calm tensions, eliminate panic and regain confidence. With only ten games remaining in the regular season, LAFC have the advantage that half of them will be at Banc of California Stadium and still have control of their own destiny.

LAFC are only three points behind 1st place and with the right combination of results and a win on Sunday versus Colorado Rapids, they can potentially go to sleep on Sunday night at the top of the Western Conference. The fans need to support now more than ever and the players need to perform the best they possibly can during this playoff push. Together, we can take this club to the next level and clinch a playoff spot in the following weeks. Let’s go LAFC!

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-Benjamin Virgen

August 17, 2018

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