Rossi & Sisniega Take Over as LAFC Defeat SKC 5-1 On The Road
DO NOT make Los Angeles Football Club mad or else you will pat the consequences. If you don’t believe me, ask Seattle Sounders and now Sporting KC.
After suffering only their second defeat all season last week in Colorado, LAFC responded with a statement victory on the road in Kansas City with a 5-1 rout over an injury-plagued SKC side that are struggling to move up in the standings. When the Vancouver Whitecaps handed LAFC their first loss back in April, the Black & Gold countered with a 4-1 crushing over Seattle the following match. Unfortunately for Sporting KC, they were faced with an angry LAFC team looking for its next victim.
With the elimination of Canada from the Gold Cup, Mark-Anthony Kaye returned to the club and Bob Bradley inserted him in the starting lineup right away. Another player who reappeared in the starting XI was Eduard Atuesta, who did not play last week in Colorado as Bradley wanted him fully rested for this match. With Atuesta, Kaye and Blessing all on the pitch together for the first time in over a month, the Three Amigos were back.
Exploiting Their Weakness
The first half was sloppy with sharpness lacking for both clubs in terms of passing the ball. With Sporting KC dominating possession with 65%, it was obvious that LAFC was taking the counter-attack and high press approach in an attempt to exploit SKC’s weakness: poor transition defense. Aside from a header in the box from Kaye that was brilliantly saved by KC goalkeeper Tim Melia, the first 25 minutes of the game were overshadowed by imprecision and turnovers from the LAFC midfield. However, in the 28th minute, an old friend of ours committed a clumsy foul on Vela just outside the box. Benny Feilhaber, you know better.
Before I go forward, I want to point out LAFC’s high press provoked Sporting KC to turn the ball over in their own half, which led to this free kick. Jordan Harvey played an excellent defensive match and it was his pressure that allowed LAFC to regain possession. In his 13th start of the season, Christian Ramirez demanded the ball and executed the free kick under the wall to perfection for the opening goal of the match. Ramirez would have a golden opportunity to get his brace in the 39th minute after a deadly counter attack constructed by Vela and Rossi but his shot went over the bar.
Just a minute later, Sporting KC had their golden opportunity through striker Krisztian Nemeth but his shot inside the box after a cross from Gerso was blocked by LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega, who continued his amazing form for the Black & Gold. Kansas City winger Gerso was SKC’s most dangerous player in attack with his speed and dribbling ability while Diego Rossi had himself a fantastic game and would later get involved on the score board.
The poor transition defense would haunt Sporting KC once again in the second half and would make Bob Bradley’s game plan look genius. Just five minutes into the half, LAFC recovered the ball in the midfield and Atuesta started the counter with a pass to Ramirez. The American striker then delivered a beautiful pass to Rossi who finished the quick transition play with a curling shot past Melia for the 2-0 lead. Rossi wasn’t done there.
The goal allowed for the Black & Gold to control the tempo of the game as Kansas City began to feel the pressure of losing at home with desperation kicking in. It was a preview of what was to come.
In the 63rd minute, Sporting KC turned the ball over while trying to play out of the back. Rossi’s aggressive pressure allowed him to intercept a pass and quickly played it Vela, who shook off a couple of defenders in the box to put the ball in the back of the net. 3-0. Ten minutes later, Rossi took on several defenders and with a wonderful individual play on the wing set up Ramirez for his brace but the striker was unable to finish from close range as his shot was blocked by Melia. Rossi was doing it all and wasn’t done there.
Co-Man of The Match
However, there was someone else giving Rossi a run for Man of The Match honors and it was none other than goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega. Starting with his point blank save in the first half, Sisniega blocked a very difficult for shot from SKC substitute Yohan Croizet in the 70th minute and a header from Ilie Sanchez just seconds later. The cherry on top was his penalty kick save in the 81st minute when he denied Salloi from the spot. Although his clean sheet would vanish in the 85th minute, Sisniega has made a case for himself to remain the starting goalkeeper for the club, even when Tyler Miller returns from international duty.
With just a few minutes remaining in the match, LAFC was not satisfied with the 3-1 lead and wanted more. After Kaye, who did not have a great game along with Atuesta, lost the ball in the midfield, Rossi (again) would recover the ball immediately in his own half and play it to the incoming run of Vela. The Mexican waited for substitute Rodolfo Zelaya to get into position and Fito would score his first-career MLS goal on his birthday. It was the perfect way to build confidence and hopefully the start of a great partnership with Vela.
The last goal of the match was something you don’t see every day, especially in MLS. Substitute defender Mohamed El-Munir performed an exquisite display of skill as he dribbled through four defenders on a 60-yard run to also score his first-career MLS goal. It was the perfect ending to a game where LAFC were not sharp in terms of passing but made up for it with effective, clinical finishing.