Portland, Oregon — The regular season, a most memorable 25th MLS season, is coming to an end. Only four matches remain for LAFC as they continue their fight for the postseason. Last night was the first of two remaining matches against Western Conference rivals, Portland Timbers.
While Portland controlled most of the match, it was the late-goal heroics of Christian Torres that helped LAFC salvage a point.
LAFC Salvage Point Behind Christian Torres’ Late Goal
The first 20 minutes of the match was all LAFC. After finishing with just one shot on goal their last visit to Providence Park, Los Angeles came out firing for the opening goal. The best chance of the night came at the 10 minute mark. After completing a great run to get him behind the defense, BWP was served a perfect pass, but couldn’t get more than a toe on it. That near goal was enough to wake-up the Portland Timbers. The rest of the first half was all Portland, as they found themselves with several chances to take the lead. However, LAFC Goalkeeper, Pablo Sisniega, managed to come up with a handful of critical saves to keep it level at the break.
The second half started much how the first ended, with Portland peppering the goal and finding success in attack. Only minutes into the second half, beautiful link-up passing led to a Jeremy Ebobisse goal in the 47th minute. While LAFC did have a great chance at equalizing in the 60th minute, it was Portland keeper, Steve Clark who came up with a key save of his own. However, the black and gold wouldn’t be denied their point and took it in dramatic fashion right at the end. A perfect through ball from Eddie Segura found a turning Opoku, who flicked it on to 16-year-old Christian Torres, who put it in the back of the net for his first ever MLS goal.
When you become one of the youngest players ever to score in an MLS match, and are the first Academy product to feature, start, then score a goal for a club, you get your own section. 16-year-old Christian Torres has been a name on the lips of many since his appearance throughout the pre-season way back in February. One of three homegrown academy products currently with LAFC’s first team, Torres appears to have settled into professional life nicely.
While Bob Bradley did acknowledge post Vancouver that it was more circumstance, that has led to the young kids getting so much playtime, it’s worked out wonderfully for LAFC. While many anxiously await the return of Rossi, Vela, and Rodriguez, Christian is proving he belongs. It won’t be long before he’s assisting Vela and scoring off a Rossi one-touch. Congrats to the LA Academy, as well as Christian on what will be a very memorable night.
Saint Sisniega Rises Once More
Last season Pablo Sisniega emerged as the number one for LAFC after a run of amazing performances. Fast forward to this year, and the arrival of veteran keeper, Kenneth Vermeer. In American football it is said, to have two quarterbacks, is like having none. For Los Angeles this year, it’s felt similar to their keeper situation. After earning the starting role again this year, Sisniega has done well to show why he should remain between the posts.
While the results haven’t been what anyone has wanted, his play in particular, hasn’t been the reason. Last night was further proof of this. Portland could have easily finished with four goals had it not been for several critical first half saves. This season as a whole may be rough, but it would be a whole lot worse if not for Pablo.
Only four matches remain in the regular season. The most important thing for LAFC right now, is getting as healthy as possible. Good news for them, the players who have been away on International duty, have now returned and should be good for their next match. In addition, the return of Carlos Vela inches closer, which means this team could be at full strength just in time for the playoffs. A postseason berth isn’t official yet, so the next four matches are the most important of the season.
Next up for LAFC, is what feels like the 100th LA Clàsico this season. Both sides come into this match looking for a place in the playoffs. If ever there was a switch to flipped, now is the time to flip it. As wild, chaotic, and at times, roller-coaster-like, as this season has been, there is still a very real chance this team achieves it’s ultimate goal.