LAFC got two goals from an unlikely source, rookie center back Mamadou Fall, and broke an eight-match winless streak with a 4-0 rout of 10-man Sporting Kansas City at Banc of California Stadium on Friday night.
Fall scored either side of a red card for Roger Espinoza before Cristian Arango and an Eduard Atuesta penalty late on made the result an emphatic one for the home side.
While Kansas City dominated first-half possession, keeping the ball over 60 percent of the time, neither team was able to generate much offense from the run of play. LAFC generated the lone goal of the opening 45 on a corner kick. In the 18th minute, Atuesta sent in a ball just right for heading, and Fall rose to meet it for his first-ever MLS goal.
Though Bryce Duke wasn't able to double the lead with his 29th-minute strike from beyond the 18, it deserves a place in the highlight reel for the season's best near-misses. His shot knuckled wickedly toward goal but ended up just on the wrong end of the far post. Alan Pulido, not called up by El Tri for the opening round of Concacaf World Cup qualifiers and thus available for MLS duty, provided SKC's lone shot on goal in the opening 45.
In the 55th minute, the complexion of the match changed via an Espinoza foul on Arango. Video Review revealed the severity of what happened: Espinoza grabbed Arango's jersey and then stepped on his ankle, and that was deemed worthy of a red card.
On a set piece in the 61st minute, with SKC still adjusting to being a man down, Atuesta set up for a long free kick and found Fall's head once again, making it a brace for the young Senegalese defender.
Arango had a chance to make it three in the 66th minute, getting a one-one with Tim Melia, but the veteran keeper was able to hold his ground. Five minutes later, though, he got on the scoresheet when LAFC pushed numbers in the box, taking a deft pass from sub Danny Musovski and finishing it with authority.
It appeared that Ilie Sanchez had pulled one back for the visitors on an 80th-minute set piece, but to round out the Not Their Night quality of the match, it was ruled offside.
Then, to compound the pain, Melia felled Musovski on a 1v1 and got hit with the yellow card and a point to the spot; Atuesta converted the PK to finish SKC off.
- 18' — LAFC — Mamadou Fall
- 61' — LAFC — Mamadou Fall
- 71' — LAFC — Cristian Arango
- 87' — LAFC — Eduard Atuesta (PK)
- THE BIG PICTURE: While no one was ready to count LAFC out, even though they started out the night 11th place in the West, this massive win over one of the top teams in the conference gives them new life. It happened without Vela and in the opening throes of life after Rossi. And though his departure doesn’t make a run to the playoffs easier, LAFC definitely showed a next-man-up mentality. For SKC, this loss was bad, but whether it’s anomaly or continuation of a worrying trend depends on how you look at draws. This makes four straight winless matches yet only the first loss in their last seven matches.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The red card wasn’t exactly a momentum shifter, as LAFC was on the front foot for most of the 11 v. 11 portion of the match, but it certainly blew open what was a cagey 1-0 affair before that.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Atuesta had an all-around solid match with results to show, but Fall (who goes by Mbacke on his jersey) stood out with a pair of goals on a night he’ll never forget.
- LAFC: Sunday, Sept. 12 vs. Real Salt Lake | 7:30 pm PT (My13 KCOP, Estrella TV)