Jose Cifuentes Battles For Ball LAFC at SEA 200830 IMG

Black & Gold Endgame | LAFC 1-3 Seattle Sounders 8/30/20

LAFC 1-3 Seattle Sounders

MLS Regular Season – Game #7

August 30, 2020

 

The Seattle Sounders used two goals by Jordan Morris in the span of a minute early in the second half to power past LAFC and earn a 3-1 win in Seattle on Aug. 30. Playing without Carlos Vela and Eduard Atuesta, the Black & Gold were stunned by a Raul Ruidiaz deep strike in the 11th minute, and could not get much of a rhythm going offensively until Diego Rossi scored late. Christian Torres made LAFC history in the 78th minute, becoming the first MLS Homegrown Academy player to appear in an MLS regular season match.

“We’re going through a very difficult stretch,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “You can see that we have a lot of guys who are not in good form, and mentally they are just not where they need to be.”

 

TWO IN A ROW

For just the third time in club history, LAFC has dropped two consecutive MLS regular season matches after losing 3-1 in Seattle on Aug. 30. It has been over two years since it happened – as the Black & Gold last lost back to back matches Aug. 5, 2018 (2-1 loss to Red Bulls) and then on Aug. 11, 2018 (2-0 loss to Kansas City). In all competitions, LAFC is now on a three-game losing streak as they fell in penalty kicks to Orlando City SC in the quarterfinals of the MLS Is Back Tournament on July 31. This is also the second time in Club history they have lost three in a row – the last time being that same stretch in August 2018 when they also fell to Houston on Aug. 8, 2018 in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

“I thought we started the game okay,” Bradley said. “It was a really bad first goal to concede, and then you could see that mentally hit some guys right away, with heads down.”

 

BAR STILL HIGH IN A STRANGE TIMES

LAFC head coach Bob Bradley was frustrated with the second straight loss for the Black & Gold, made all the more difficult to take because of the string of good results and high quality play the team exhibited in Orlando at the MLS Is Back Tournament.

“Since we’ve returned, there is, I think the level has slipped a little bit in training,” Bradley said. “Something different for this group – where all of a sudden it is not coming so easy.  Tonight I thought we started out okay, we conceded a poor goal and you could just see a little bit of the way guys put their heads down and there is never excuses. We set the bar high, but it is still an interesting period with the day-to -day part with players. With everything going on in their lives and in the world. Lately, we’ve tried everything we can to try and keep guys fully engaged. But, you can just see that some of them are not. That is the responsibility of the coaching staff to find the right ways to keep everybody going during a difficult period, both on and off the field.”

 

MISSING THE MVP AND ATUESTA

For just the fifth time in LAFC history, the Black & Gold were forced to play without both Carlos Vela and mercurial midfielder Eduard Atuesta. Playing without the 2019 MLS MVP and Atuesta, a 2019 Best XI performer, leaves a big hole in the LAFC attack. Bradley Wright-Philips took Vela’s spot up top, and Jose Cifuentes made his first career MLS start in the center of the field in place of Atuesta.

With Vela forced out, LAFC was forced to rely on the trio of Diego Rossi, Wright-Phillips and Bryan Rodríguez up top to create offensive opportunities.

 “I don’t think Bryan [Rodriguez] had a good game,” Bradley said. “So, for us to be at a good level, we need Bryan to play better than he has played of late. And then I don’t think this was Brad’s [Wright-Phillips] best game. Brad did really well in Orlando and tonight I don’t think he was so sharp. I think you’ve got to get better games from guys when all is said and done.”

LAFC is now 1-2-2 when forced to play without the talented duo of Vela and Atuesta, the last time that happened was on Sept. 7, 2019 when the played to a 2-2 tie in Orlando.

 

CHRISTIAN TORRES MLS DEBUT

Despite the loss, there was something to celebrate for LAFC. Perhaps the most momentous debut in club history occurred in the 78th minute when 16-year old Christian Torres made his MLS debut, becoming the first Homegrown player from the LAFC Youth Academy to appear in an MLS regular season game.

“We are excited to get him on the field,” Bradley said. “A young player, just like Tony Leone and Erik Dueñas, experienced now in training and little by little we hope to move these guys along and tonight was a first step for him.”

Torres was signed on July 8 along with fellow Academy players Tony Leone and Erik Dueñas. Torres had previously made club history when he was the first LAFC Academy player to score a goal with the first team during a 3-1 preseason win over Toronto FC earlier this year.

“I was just blessed to be out there and felt so fortunate,” Torres said about his debut. “Obviously disappointed with the loss and we will just go back to the drawing board for Wednesday’s match.”

In two years with the LAFC Academy, Torres notched 30 goals in 44 matches. Torres played for the U.S. Youth National Team at the Concacaf U-15 Boys’ Championship in August, 2019.

“Being with the team for preseason definitely prepared me for this,” Torres said. “Training with the team in Orlando helped too. Up to now, everything has been preparing me for this great moment.”

 

MORE HISTORY FOR BWP

MLS legend Bradley Wright Philips has continually written his name in the league record books, as the veteran is already the fastest MLS player to score 100 goals and sits seventh on the MLS all-time goal scoring list with 111. In sixth on the all-time scoring list with 114 goals is LAFC assistant coach Ante Razov.

On Aug 30 vs. the Sounders, Wright Philips made more history, making his 200th career MLS start and has no played over 15,000 MLS minutes.

 

ROSSI KEEPS IT GOING

LAFC forward Diego Rossi continued his potent 2020 season, scoring the club’s lone goal on a quick counter-attack in the 60th minute off a brilliant pass from Cifuentes. Rossi continues to lead MLS with seven goals, and he has now scored 10 goals in 11 games this season including the MLS Is Back Tournament.

“I think Diego [Rossi] tried, he found a lot of ways to be outside and found ways to be inside for us,” Bradley said.  “He didn’t start the game at his sharpest but kept going, rewarded with a goal.”

 

SILVA STARTS AND DEPARTS

LAFC defender Danilo Silva started in central defense for the Black & Gold vs. the Sounders. The four-year MLS veteran who has earned vital international experience playing with Ukrainian Premier League powerhouse FC Dynamo Kyiv and Sport Club Internacional in Brazil’s top flight, had not started since a April 17, 2019 game in Vancouver, and his last appearance was Sept 7, 2019 when he came on as a substitute.

“We were hoping we could move Danilo back into it,” Bradley said. “He had a very good stretch of training where we were able to build up his load and his play in training was quite good and so we were excited to get him back, he would have started against Salt Lake. We didn’t expect that he could play 90 minutes, we were hoping for somewhere around 60.”

Unfortunately, Silva was forced to depart in the 39th minute, as the 33-year old reaggravated a hamstring injury that had kept him sidelined for the majority of the MLS Is Back Tournament.

“He is very disappointed and very frustrated,” Bradley said. “All of us feel bad for him because we have seen how hard he has worked throughout the entire time we were in Orlando, pushing every day and doing the work. So tonight was a disappointment and I thought before he went off, for someone who hadn’t played in a long time, he was playing pretty well.”

 

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