LAFC’s historic debut MLS season comes to end after losing at home for just the second time this season. They would fall by a score of 3-2 to Real Salt Lake in the MLS Playoff Knockout Round.
“It’s hard to think you can lose a game like that,” Bob Bradley said after. “Three shots, three goals. It’s awfully hard to figure out.”
Bob Bradley made a subtle change to his usual starting lineup for this big game at the Banc of California Stadium. Latif Blessing entered the fray to provide pace for the home team.
Lee Nguyen raced down the middle of the pitch in the 14th minute before feeding Diego Rossi the ball. The Uruguayan had a look at goal, but his attempt was ultimately deflected, falling straight into Nick Rimando’s arms.
The 20-year-old continued to make his presence known early. Three minutes later, Rossi forced Rimando to tip his next shot over the crossbar.
Both sides score to open Knockout Round match
However, all of their early efforts went to waste, as Real Salt Lake struck first against the run of play.
Brooks Lennon took the ball to the byline before floating a cross back towards the area. After he took the delivery off his chest, Damir Kreilach found the back of the net with a right footed effort.
At the half hour mark, Carlos Vela whipped in his patented free kick. Danilo Silva rose above the RSL defense to power a header to level the match.
Immediately after the goal, referee Mark Geiger suspended play for five minutes because of fans throwing objects onto the field. Fans had thrown a number of items onto the field, including ice that had hit Rimando before the goal scored.
“I hope it’s the first and last time for that,” Christian Ramirez said of the incedent.
Once play resumed, Nguyen got a good look on goal when he cut the ball back and opened up space. However, his effort was deflected, and Rimando saved the shot with ease.
Back and forth second half
After half time, LAFC took the lead through Christian Ramirez, who came on for the injured Adama Diomande. With just his second touch of the match, Ramirez beat the RSL goalkeeper with a superb curling finish.
The home team’s lead did not last long, though, as Kreilach scored his scored goal with an exquisite finish of his own. LAFC botched the initial clearance and Kreilach karate kicked the ball past a helpless Tyler Miller.
Less than nine minutes later, Real Salt Lake took the lead for good. Jefferson Savarino looked like he was aiming for the far post, but his effort bounced off of Walker Zimmerman’s head, which sent Miller the wrong way.
“It will be tough to digest, but I’m really proud of year one and the chemistry that developed over that first season,” said goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
What to look forward to
While the season may be over, LAFC have a lot to build upon.
They will have higher standards for themselves going into season two, including being able to close out matches better, and finding a little more defensive depth.