LOS ANGELES — On Saturday, the Los Angeles Football Club fought to earn a point and felt good about a 2-2 result at home.
Several days later, again on their own pitch at Banc of California Stadium, LAFC walked away with a point following another 2-2 draw, but no one associated with the team is going to walk away from this one feeling fine.
After taking leads on a first-half goal by Carlos Vela and then a second-half header by Tristan Blackmon, LAFC painfully conceded in the 94th minute when Minnesota United FC midfielder Hassani Dotson smashed a half-volley from the top of the penalty area past Tomas Romero moments before referee Baldomero Toledo blew the final whistle.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said after the match. “I thought overall we played a really good game. A lot of really good efforts. I thought our mentality was good. And we just don’t finish it out.
“Time’s running out and they’re going to take their last chance by playing up the field. We looked organized. We looked ready. But somehow it turned into a tying goal for them.”
Unlike Saturday’s draw against Vancouver, LAFC started with energy and appeared to be the better team from the outset.
Keeping Minnesota at bay in the opening half and flirting with several potential goals against their former goalkeeper Tyler Miller, LAFC broke through in the 40th minute when Jose Cifuentes stepped up to intercept the ball near the center circle.
LAFC captain Carlos Vela sprinted toward the Minnesota end of the field and Cifuentes picked out a perfect pass that allowed the Mexican forward to run into the box as defender Bakaye Dibassy nipped at his heels.
Miller stepped up to address the threat and Vela hit a soft shot with his right foot that dipped into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the year. The finish made it six consecutive matches that Vela has a goal or an assist, marking contributions from him in nine of the last 11 games since returning from a right quadriceps injury in mid-May.
Last weekend Bradley made four substitutions at the half his team worked to recover from a two-goal deficit against the Whitecaps.
The Hall of Fame coach made only one move after 45 minutes against Minnesota, and only because he had to – replacing stout Colombian central defender Jesus Murillo, who felt a tight hamstring, with quick left winger Raheem Edwards.
Already playing without Murillo’s partner in the middle – fellow Colombian Eddie Segura is dealing with a knee issue – LAFC (6-5-5, 23 points) needed to fend off Minnesota (6-5-4, 22 points), which came into the match a point behind LAFC and in sixth place in the Western Conference standings.
Minnesota, which has just one loss in its last 11 games and has not lost to LAFC since May 2018, needed five minutes to get back into the match.
Challenging defender Marco Farfan on the right side of the LAFC back line, Argentine midfielder Emanuel Reynoso hit a left-footed laser as he fell to the ground, and it zoomed past Romero into the far corner of the net.
There was little that Farfan or Romero could have done differently to stop Reynoso’s second goal of the year.
LAFC went on to test their former goalkeeper several times, including a dancing effort in the box by Diego Rossi, before Blackmon’s go-ahead goal in the 77th minute off a corner kick by Eduard Atuesta that lifted the announced crowd of 22,003 out of their seats.
The Black & Gold pushed for a third goal and it nearly came when Cifuentes found himself with space in the Minnesota box in the 87th minute, but for the 22nd consecutive MLS regular-season match, a third goal did not materialize for L.A.
“That obviously was important tonight,” Bradley said.
Officials signaled three minutes of stoppage time, yet Toledo did not blow his whistle to end the match until several more minutes passed because Farfan went down with a knock.
Following the 90-minute mark, Romero made a pair of what seemed like critical saves, first on Dotson who danced around LAFC defenders and hit a sharp-angled shot that spilled to the feet of Minnesota midfielder Ethan Finlay, whose attempt was also rejected.
Then Dotson converted when he was given another chance.
“That’s a very tough goal to give up late,” Bradley said. “It’s obviously a great strike by Dotson, but what could we do different?
“Incredible to let them have a point on a play like that, but I still want to speak on the effort of the players. The mentality of the players. The push on that end I thought was good and if we play like that it puts us in a good way.”
LAFC fails to finish off Minnesota, settles for tie – Press Telegram Source link LAFC fails to finish off Minnesota, settles for tie – Press Telegram