Bittersweet Draw For LAFC In Seattle

Bittersweet Draw For LAFC In Seattle

By: Benjamin Virgen (4/29/2019)

 

A pessimist perceived it as two points dropped. An optimist viewed it as a point gained on the road. At the end of the day, it was a frustrating result.

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LAFC were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw vs the Seattle Sounders in the second game of a back-to-back series between the two Western Conference rivals at CenturyLink Field. Jordan Morris’s goal allowed Seattle to take an early lead in the 1st minute but Carlos Vela added his league-leading 11th goal of the season just minutes later with an assist from Diego Rossi. The Sounders were obliged to play with ten men for 75 minutes of the match after Christian Roldan was sent off for “violent conduct” towards Eduard Atuesta in a questionable decision by the referee. Roldan’s ejection certainly limited Seattle’s options going forward and allowed ball possession to tilt LAFC’s way. With this result, LAFC remain in 1st place of the Western Conference and have yet to lose vs the Sounders in four meetings (3 wins, 1 draw). As for Seattle, they stand in 3rd place of the West and continue to be undefeated at home this season. In a game where both teams had the chances to come out victorious, neither were given the satisfaction due to missed scoring opportunities, red cards and defensive errors.

 

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Electrifying Start

After getting completely dismantled by LAFC in Los Angeles just a week earlier with key players missing, Seattle’s injury woes continued as head coach Brian Schmetzer was  required to make obligatory changes to his starting lineup. Chad Marshall, Gustav Svensson, Victor Rodriguez and Raul Ruidiaz were all ruled out due to injury and the Sounders looked to their bench for answers.  However, Los Angeles Football Club had issues of their own as Steven Beitashour and Adama Diomande were unavailable for this match due to injury as the roster depth from both clubs was called upon.

In the first minute of the game, there were two rare sightings in an LAFC game: an early goal conceded and an Eddie Segura defensive mistake. The Colombian defender attempted to play a pass back to his goalkeeper Tyler Miller without noticing Jordan Morris’s pressure. The American forward intercepted the pass and dribbled his way towards goal to score past Miller with a right-footed shot. It was the first time this season that Segura and blunder were in the same sentence as the young 22-year old will learn from mishaps like these. One of the things LAFC is known for is their quick response after being down on the scoreboard and who better to steer the ship the right direction than the captain.

Just two minutes after Seattle’s goal, LAFC skipper Carlos Vela would equalize after a great play between Jordan Harvey and Diego Rossi. The left-back received the ball at center field and catapulted a pass towards Rossi that permitted the Uruguayan to dribble the ball down the left side into the box. Vela accompanied his teammate all the way and positioned himself in front of the goal to tap it in after a great cross from Rossi. The Vela-Rossi connection would pay dividends yet again in Seattle after both combined for LAFC’s first goal in club history last season. The first five minutes of this match forecasted a goal fest that would never arrive but there would not be shortage of action and drama for the remainder of the game.

 

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Game-Changing Decision

 Just when Seattle seemed to be making the proper adjustments to prevent LAFC from playing through the midfield, the referee made a cruel determination against the Sounders when he showed the red card to Christian Roldan. There was a scuffle between Mark-Anthony Kaye and Roldan that resulted in Atuesta rushing in to defend his teammate. In the process of defending himself, Roldan swiped his hand and made contact with Atuesta’s face. The ejection left Seattle with a player disadvantage and an uphill battle on the field against the best team in MLS. It was the 5th red card shown to an LAFC opponent this season in 10 games.

The rest of the first half (and the game for that matter) would have LAFC dominating possession with several scoring chances. The midfield trio of Atuesta, Kaye and Blessing were constantly involved on the ball with the Canadian being the one in a more advanced role due to his passing ability in the final third. In attack, Rossi was excellent on the left side beating his defenders with speed while Ramirez was closely patrolled by a much improved version of Roman Torres but was at least winning fouls when dropping to the midfield. Tristan Blackmon made his first appearance this season with LAFC filling in for the injured Beitashour at right-back and although he put in a decent performance, his inexperience was apparent on a few occasions and even picked up a yellow card because of it.

With Morris as the lone forward and Blackmon not much of an attacking option, Bob Bradley was able to be creative with his substitutions and made a change at halftime.

 

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It Just Won’t Go In

Lee Nguyen entered the match for Tristan Blackmon to start the second half with Latif Blessing sliding to right-back. Atuesta had a clear chance to score just one minute into the half but his shot went inches over the bar of Stefan Frei as LAFC made it very clear that they were going for the win. A minute later, Christian Ramirez did something that very few players in the world are able to do.  In a great buildup that started with Rossi, Vela received the ball and played the ball to the overlapping run of Blessing who then crossed the ball across the box to a wide open Ramirez. With only inches separating the American striker from the goal, his tap in went over the bar to the disbelief of his teammates, coaches and LAFC supporters. The miss affected Ramirez negatively as he was unable to get himself involved in the game and was eventually substituted for Adrien Perez.

LAFC continued to dominate possession and insisted on getting the go-ahead goal with shots from Vela, Rossi and Perez that required last-stitch tackles from Seattle defenders. The entrance of Mohammed El-Munir at left-back injected an extra boost of energy on the side as the Libyan got forward on several occasions and delivered some great crosses. Unfortunately, the sharpness was not there on the day for the Black & Gold. The Sounders had a couple chances of their own to win the game with a volley from Nicolas Lodeiro going just high and a stoppage-time counter attack led by Brad Smith that was saved by desperate defending from LAFC players. With Seattle pushing forward, Rossi was fouled by Kevin Leerdam after a pass from Vela that resulted in a red card for the Seattle defender, who was the last man on the play. LAFC were awarded a free kick just outside the box with Vela behind the ball to win the game but his shot went wide and the final whistle blew.

 

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 Final Thoughts

In a match where LAFC outshot Seattle 21 to 4, dominated possession 75% to 25% and were up a player for over 75 minutes, it is safe to say that a draw is a frustrating result. The chances were there but the sharpness was not. LAFC did what a team should do with a man-advantage and controlled the game from the time of the ejection up until the end. We have to give credit to Seattle for a great defensive effort and allowing themselves a chance to win it in the final minutes. In the big picture, LAFC got 4 out of 6 points from the Sounders back-to-back series and at the end of the season that will go a long way.

 

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

All photos by Lindsey Wason

 

 

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