Zimmerman Brace Leads LAFC to Dominant Win vs San Jose

With a dominant performance validating what the standings show, LAFC took another step towards the MLS playoffs with a convincing 2-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes, the worst team  in the league this season. The matinee match was rare for LAFC as they had only played two previous home games in the afternoon and both ended in draws. The radiating heat from the beaming sun did not stop the fans from filling up Banc of California Stadium to capacity and recording yet another sellout crowd of 22,000.

The game had an unlikely hero in a player being known for preventing goals rather than scoring them. Nonetheless, this players’ contribution to the team in every game is vital to LAFC’s success and this match was not the exception.

LAFC did not waste any time in showing their superiority and created many goal-scoring opportunities. Carlos Vela started off things with a pirouette-type shot that went inches over the bar in the 2nd minute. The Mexican internationaldrenched his class over the pitch and had an additional two chances to get on the board. The first one came in the 20th minute, when he was left in an ideal position inside the box to curl the ball to the second post. Instead, his shot went right to the goalkeeper’s hands. Vela also blasted a 25-yard shot towards the goal only to be denied again by San Jose’s goalie at the end of the first half.

Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing both started the match aswingers and had scoring chances of their own. In the 35thminute, Rossi had a cross-shot that ended up hitting the post after it was initially blocked by the goalie. Ten minutes later, Blessing had a go from 20 yards out but his shot was blocked by the goalkeeper’s diving save.

AdamaDiomande returned from injury after missing the last three games and was in the starting XI for the first time in six matches. Dio was very involved in the attack by creating spaces for his teammates and finding the open man when needed. He would be subbed out early in the second half as LAFC slowly ease him back into the line-up.

LAFC’s defense had very little work to do in the first half with San Jose only having one shot on goal as opposed to seven from the home side. The partnership of Zimmerman/Jakovic was unsurpassable and the midfield kept organized.

With five minutes remaining in the half, LAFC’s efforts finally paid off. Vela took the teams’ 9th corner-kick of the game and found his target in Walker Zimmerman. The defender jumped over everyone and headed the ball into the back of the net for his first goal of the season and his first for LAFC. 1-0 at halftime.

At the start of the second half, Vela would get things goingagain with a free-kick that required an intervention from San Jose’s goalkeeper. Ten minutes later, San Jose came very close to an equalizer but their shot went just wide of Miller’s goal after their player was left all lone at the top of the box. It was a scare that LAFC did not allow to happen again.

In the 55th minute, Marco Ureña comes on to the field for AdamaDiomande to get some fresh legs in the attack. The Costa Rica international had a little extra motivation in this match as he was playing against his former team.

Just seconds after entering the match, Ureña got a steal after fighting for the ball and dished it to Vela inside the box only to have the captains’ shot blocked by the goalkeeper. Over the next five minutes, Ureña was very active up front by making good runs and getting himself in good position to create danger against San Jose. Overall, it was a good performance from Ureña.

In the 65th minute, Vela took the teams’ 12th corner-kick of the match and picked out Zimmerman again. The 25-year old center-back got away from his defender and headed the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the game. With Feilhaber coming on just a few minutes earlier, LAFC were looking to secure the result by adding an extra midfielder with 20 minutes to go.

LAFC had been known to blow leads late in games. However, San Jose never really proposed any serious threat in attack, which made things much easier for the Black and Gold to stay ahead. The last 20 minutes of the game served as a passing clinic between LAFC’s midfield trio (Atuesta, Nguyen and Feilhaber) in efforts to maintain the ball away from San Jose and retaining the 2-0 lead. Atuesta deserves an honorable mention as the 21-year old Colombian continues to solidify himself in the midfield with excellent performances.

With the victory, LAFC remains in 3rd place of the Western Conference and prolonged their unbeaten streak to six games, four of them wins. Over the last four home matches, Tyler Miller has three shutouts and has now nine overall for the season. Carlos Vela continues to lead the team in goals and assists with 11 and 10 respectively. He has taken the captain’s armband seriously and leads by example on the pitch. LAFC are one of the most fun teams to watch in MLS as they lead the Western Conference in goals scored with 57.

Of the next five opponents for LAFC, only one is in playoff contention (Sporting Kansas City). This means that on paper, LAFC should get favorable results against bottom-table teams like they did versus San Jose. With 1st place well within reach, LAFC are only 3 points away from the top spot in the West. However, this will not be an easy task as they begin a two-game road trip to Chicago and Colorado before coming back home.

-Benjamin Virgen

September 24, 2018

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