Despite Ryan Hollingshead and Franco Jara scoring first-half goals for FC Dallas, Cristian Arango powered LAFC with a hat trick — including two goals within four crucial late-match minutes — for a 3-2 away win at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night that officially eliminated the hosts from the 2021 playoff race.
The result pulled LAFC to the edge of the playoff line in the West, and got Arango to an impressive 11 goals in just 13 matches as a midseason addition, while a Ricardo Pepi-less FCD continued their late-season swoon.
The hosts got out in the lead in the 10th minute, with Hollingshead the recipient of excellent team ball movement around the box. Ema Twumasi started the sequence, and Jader Obrian took his pass, slotted it to Jesus Ferreira, and then Ferreira's pass put it on a platter for the defender to score.
A minute later, Jara nearly chipped Jamal Blackman on a cheeky attempt, but his attempt bounced off the crossbar, and then Paxton Pomykal couldn't beat Blackman on the put-back shot. FC Dallas then heaped more pressure on LAFC's backline, nearly engineering what would have been a Marco Farfan own goal, though Farfan's interruption of a cross went just wide of the post.
LAFC head coach Bob Bradley decided a tactical change was in order, going from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 by subbing in Raheem Edwards and Bryce Duke for Farfan and Daniel Crisostomo in the 27th minute. The personnel change paid near-immediate dividends, with Edwards drawing a penalty in the box from Matt Hedges. Following Video Review confirmation, Arango took his PK, and though FCD goalkeeper Phelipe got a glove to it, Arango had put enough sauce on it to get it over the line despite the deflection.
Right before the end of the first half, though, Dallas got out on a breakaway, and Obrian led Jara in on goal to finish definitively.
It looked as if Arango scored his second goal less than seven minutes into the second half, but Latif Blessing was called offside on the play, and Video Review confirmed that the would-be equalizer would disappear into the memory hole.
Then, Obrian — in his last meaningful action of the match — very nearly connected with Ferreira on a dagger goal a few minutes later. Obrian's shot was tipped away from goal by Blackman, and though Ferreira got on the end of it, he did it with too little real estate to do anything with it. Missing out on that resulted in LAFC looking to press for a goal to bring them back level, and Arango did just that, getting his 10th goal of the season but then staying down in front of goal with an apparent leg injury while Video Review confirmed the goal.
Arango then recovered and got his hat trick goal four minutes later, catching a deflected ball from Twumasi getting on the end of a long Mamadou Fall cross that sizzled across the goalmouth. That was enough for LAFC to get their first lead of the night, and they were able to make it stick to an end that included six minutes of stoppage time.
- 10' – DAL – Ryan Hollingshead
- 33' — LAFC — Cristian Arango (PK)
- 45' — DAL — Franco Jara
- 75' — LAFC — Cristian Arango
- 79' — LAFC — Cristian Arango
- THE BIG PICTURE: LAFC, who looked in peril in this match early on, recovered for what could emerge as a season-saving win. Dallas, meanwhile, looked as if they’d have a chance to reward interim head coach Marco Ferruzzi with a win, but it wasn’t to be. FCD now has three losses and a draw since letting Luchi Gonzalez go.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: After looking he might not be able to continue, Arango banged in the match winner to continue what’s been an incredible journey.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Really, could it be anyone else but Arango?
- LAFC: Saturday, Oct. 23 at Minnesota United FC | 5:00pm PT (My13 KCOP, Estrella TV)