Los Angeles, CA – Phase One of MLS’ return came to it’s conclusion this evening. LAFC hosted Western Conference foe, Portland Timbers, in what was an early must-win match for the black and gold. In the midst of one of their worst runs of forms since arriving to the league, LAFC beat Portland having come into tonight 10th in the West, outside of the playoffs. However, there is still plenty of time for a playoff push, but they needed to get back on the winning track against Portland.
Recap: LAFC Beat Portland Timbers in Relieving win
Things looked bleak for LAFC early on, as Portland found early success. Eryk Williamson was on the scoring end of some incredible passing, and a controversial screen, to give Portland the lead. However, unlike matches prior, the squad didn’t crumble. Instead, they continued to apply pressure and in the 37th minute found their equalizer via a corner put in by Mark-Anthony Kaye. However, that was far from all the first half had in store.
The 41st minute saw LAFC put on a passing display of their own, with captain Diego Rossi, giving LAFC the one goal lead. Bradley Wright-Phillips got on the scoresheet late in the 45th minute, giving LAFC a third goal. However, just seconds later, Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse pulled one back in one of the wildest finishes to a half this season.
The second half started out as expected, with an early Portland push. The surge led to some close chances but failed to produce any equalizers. While both sides had ample chances to add to their goal tally throughout the half, it was LAFC who drove the nails in the coffin late. The 90th minute saw Danny Musovski get the fourth goal, giving Los Angeles the full three points.
The big story this season hasn’t been the missing pieces, or even the injuries LAFC have suffered. The biggest story of the season has been mentality. With all that’s going on in the world around them, it’s no surprise that some within LAFC have struggled to get focused for every single match. Tonight was a night where they were able to focus, and it showed. While they did let in the early goal, it was the response that’s worth noting. They didn’t hang heads, or give a deep ‘here we go again’ sigh.
They continued to apply pressure with the press, continued to push hard and eventually broke down the defense for an equalizer. From there, it was all black and gold. Finishing up the first half with two more goals, and ending the match with a last minute goal. While it’s understandable focus can be tough to come by with all that’s going on, this match was further proof that when focused, this team is hard to beat.
The biggest positive of the match, wasn’t the score line, but the substitution made in the 80th minute. Eduard Atuesta made his return to play tonight, and it was a very welcome sight for a team looking to start their playoff push with the upcoming Phase Two. While he didn’t have much time to make an impact, his mere presence was enough to give LAFC an added boost. A boost that should carry over to Seattle, where he will likely feature in the bulk of the match.
The Playoff Push
LAFC will now shift focus to Phase Two of the MLS’ return to play. With three more matches confirmed, the next opponent will be another Western Conference rival, the Seattle Sounders. After tonight’s win, LAFC now sit in fourth place, with sights set on a playoff berth. Eight teams will make it to the postseason, and with the Western Conference as close as it is, Los Angeles will need to continuing winning to ensure their place.
The return of Eduard Atuesta will be critical going forward, as he is the heart of the LAFC attack. With Carlos Vela likely to miss a bit more time due to injury, Atuesta will be asked to resume his role as conductor in the final third.