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LAFC rode a dominant first half to three huge points in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs race, cruising to a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders at Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday behind goals from Brian Rodriguez, Latif Blessing and Cristian Arango.

The hosts controlled the contest from the jump, breaking through with Rodriguez's 21st-minute opener before Blessing and Arango added insurance tallies that sealed off the comfortable result. With the victory, Bob Bradley's group temporarily vault above the playoff line in the Western Conference, drawing even with the Vancouver Whitecaps on 44 points and claiming possession of the No. 7 spot via the total wins tiebreaker.

LAFC opened the scoring through Rodriguez's third goal of the season, as the Uruguayan ran onto a through ball from Raheem Edwards behind the Seattle backline, sneaking the finish through the legs of Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Blessing then doubled the advantage right on the stroke of halftime, as the Ghanaian pounced on a deflected cross from the right side by Kim Moon-hwan and slotted home the close-range finish from a difficult angle, staking LAFC to the 2-0 lead heading into the break.

Seattle looked reinvigorated after second-half kickoff, narrowly missing a pair of dangerous chances just after the restart. The first came from Nouhou, who had blasted a thundering header off the post, denying the Cameroonian his first MLS goal by a matter of inches. Fredy Montero got behind the LAFC defense shortly after, but had his close-range effort denied by LAFC goalkeeper Jamal Blackman, who wound up making several key saves in the second half.

The missed opportunities proved crucial, as Arango added LAFC's third in the 51st minute that effectively put the contest to bed with a slicing distance shot that took a deflection off Xavier Arreaga and settled into the net.

Seattle did get one positive in the return to the field for Nicolas Lodeiro, who entered as a second-half substitute for his first appearance since Sept. 11. The star playmaker nearly scored a highlight-reel goal after his entrance, but LAFC would ultimately see out the clean sheet.

GOALS

  • 21' - LAFC - Brian Rodriguez
  • 45'+3' - LAFC - Latif Blessing
  • 51' - Cristian Arango

THREE THINGS

  • THE BIG PICTURE: LAFC had their playoff lives on the line, and they played like it, as the Black & Gold were all over Seattle especially in a comprehensive first half. They still have work to do to salvage a postseason berth in what has been an erratic season, but this result gives LAFC a fighting chance. Seattle continued a recent lull in form that has seen the Rave Green drop three out of their last four matches. Lodeiro's return, as well as those of Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris — expected imminently — give reason to believe that they'll be set up to turn it around for the playoffs, but the danger is very real that the Sounders will lose their grasp on the West's No. 1 seed in the meantime.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: If the Sounders could have made it to the half at 1-0, a second-half comeback would have been much more manageable. That made Blessing's strike just before the break all the more crucial.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Cristian Arango continues to be an absolute revelation for LAFC, maintaining his torrid pace since joining the club in August with yet another goal in this one. The Colombian is now up to 13 goals in his first 15 games.

Next Up

  • LAFC: Tuesday, November 2 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps | 7:30 pm (Bally Sports SoCal, Estrella TV)