LAFC is turning the Banc of California Stadium into a fortress. In the 10 matches they have played at home since it’s debut on April 29th, Bob Bradley’s men have not lost.
Saturday proved how resolute LAFC can be when they play in front of the home supporters. Orlando City’s Sacha Kljestan trimmed LAFC’s lead in half in the 59th minute and the play tightened. Adama Diomande scored his second of the night with eight minutes left to make it 3-1 before Diego Rossi netted two minutes later.
“I had a good performance,” Diomande told media after the match. “The team had a good performance but there are always things we can do better.”
This victory for LAFC means that they inch themselves closer to the top spot in the Western Conference standings. Three points on Saturday puts them in the second spot, one point behind FC Dallas.
Carlos Vela and Marcos Urena returned from the World Cup, only to find themselves sitting on the bench. Both were key figures for Mexico and Costa Rica, respectively, and needed to find their feet once more.
Bradley also opted for a 4-3-3 this time around, showcasing his side’s ability to be flexible when it comes to tactics.
Diomande Continues to Pest Opposition
Diomande is in some kind of form since he made the move from Hull City, having scored nine goals in his previous seven matches. Against Orlando, the striker could have had four goals, but two were taken back because of the offside rule.
But his opener against OCSC did come in the 28th minute. Steven Beitashour floated a cross into the area and Latif Blessing hit a header down, which Joe Bendik parried away. Blessing chased down the rebound and sent a dangerous pass through the six-yard-box.
Orlando’s Amro Tarek attempted to clear his line but his clearance fell straight to Mark-Anthony Kaye. Then, Kaye played an easy pass to Diomande, who made no mistake with his finish.
Kaye Key in Midfield
Three minutes later, Blessing made it 2-0 in favor of LAFC. Kaye played Diego Rossi in behind the Orlando defense, and the Uruguayan sent a first-time ball back through the box. Blessing finished off the move with a right-footed effort that beat Bendik.
Orlando City nearly got a goal of their own five minutes after halftime. Kljestan sent a free kick curling towards the top right corner. Tyler MIller, though, flew to keep his clean sheet for the time being.
“I had a good performance,” Miller said. “The team had a good performance but there are always things we can do better.”
Three minutes later, Kljestan did get OCSC on the score sheet. Walker Zimmerman slipped as he tried to put pressure higher up the pitch. His footing issue allowed Kljestan to take his time while lining up his shot, which beat Miller.
Laurent Ciman hit a powerful header off a corner with nine minutes remaining. Bendik couldn’t corral the attempt and it bounced until Diomande acrobatically found the back of the net.
LAFC’s Kaye, the 23-year-old midfielder, was sensational on Saturday. He finished off his stellar night with an assist that led to the fourth goal. After Diomande won possession in his own attacking third, Kaye took the ball from him. The Canadian midfielder took three touches before finding Rossi with a square pass. Rossi did not miss the empty net from a close range and with the goal wide open.
LAFC will continue to break in their new digs this forthcoming week and a half. They will play the Portland Timbers twice. First, they welcome them in MLS action on Sunday afternoon. Then, three days later, the two will square off in the U.S. Open Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.