In a weekday matchup between the top in the West, first-place LAFC welcomed third-place Austin FC to Banc of California Stadium.
Both teams lost their last league game and were looking to bounce back into the win column.
A similar narrative took place on the pitch as LAFC found themselves down early after conceding a goal in the 14th minute.
Austin FC sent a ball into the box that LAFC defender Diego Palacios turned over and defender Ruben Gabrielsen calmly slotted into the goal for the 1-0 lead.
It was the seventh time out of their last eight league games that LAFC conceded first. The Black and Gold tried to equalize but Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver stopped all four shots some at close range to keep it 0-1 at the half.
Stuver remained the hero of the game as the second half carried on the same momentum. LAFC found themselves with a few chances, but Stuver’s presence shut out any opportunity they had and managed to stop any progression on their end. Ultimately, the keeper’s hard work was rewarded late in the game.
In the 80th minute Diego Fagundez scored Austin FC’s second goal putting LAFC’s home unbeaten record in jeopardy.
In the 85th minute Stuver made his only mistake of the game, bringing down Carlos Vela in the box. Vela cooly slotted in the penalty giving the Black and Gold hope but no other chances occurred and the final score remained 2-1 in favor of Austin FC.
For Vela it was his first goal in seven league games and it was a historic one, his 100th combined goal+assists in just 98 games played, the third fastest to achieve the honor.
After the game Vela acknowledged the record but remained focused on team goals, stating: “Personal records are good…But in the end if you don’t win a team trophy it doesn’t feel as good.”
For LAFC the loss ended their unbeaten home streak, but more notably meant two consecutive loses for the first time this season, and dropped them below Austin FC in the Western Conference standings.
“Two games where we made some mistakes defensively and we’ve been punished. We did enough to get a point but certainly not enough to win the game,” said Head Coach Steve Cherundolo after the match.
It won’t get easier for LAFC as they head back on the road to face Columbus Crew on Saturday before a round of 16 US Open Cup match against their crosstown rivals, the LA Galaxy next Wednesday.
The Black and Gold will have to dig deep to get back to their winning ways.