LAFC 0-3 Seattle Sounders
MLS Regular Season – Game #12
Sept 18, 2020
A rollercoaster of a season continued for LAFC on Friday night, with the Black & Gold falling 3-0 to Seattle at a rainy CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Much like their first trip of the season to Seattle on August 30, the Black & Gold saw a promising early start derailed by difficult circumstances.
The Sounders used two first half penalty kicks to take a 2-0 lead, and sealed the game on a Raul Ruidiaz goal in the 82nd minute.
“It’s hard to recover from two PK’s in the first half,” LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony Kaye said.
LAFC has now lost four straight road games by a combined total of 12-1.
“I’ve said a few times, that now facing adversity, and having a real way as a group to play through it – that is the challenge for us,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “When you go through a tough stretch, it just seems like no matter what, things go against you.”
FIVE MINUTES OF PENALTIES
With LAFC controlling much of the run of play, Seattle was able to take the lead in a crushing five-minute flurry determined more by the actions of referee Joseph Dickerson than the Sounders attack.
Nicolas Lodeiro scored in the 29th minute on a penalty kick after a LAFC defender Dejan Jaković was called for a handball when the ball struck his arm in the middle of the box. Lodeiro beat LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega to his right.
“Tonight, overall, I thought the start was fair enough, and then two penalties,” Bradley said. “The first one we just don’t do well enough in dealing with the ball as it comes in.”
Just five minutes later, Latif Blessing was whistled for a questionable penalty in the box for contact on Yeimar Gomez when the two attempted to make play a long ball near the six-yard box.
“For me that is just not a penalty,” Bradley said. “Pablo is coming to take the ball and so I don’t think that is one that you will see called too often in big games.”
Lodeiro stepped up once again and buried the kick from the spot, giving the Sounders an insurmountable 2-0 advantage.
Despite trailing 2-0 at halftime, Bradley challenged the team to use the final 45 minutes to keep applying pressure and get back in the game.
“It was an uphill battle,” Kaye said. “But at halftime we spoke about really trying to push the game and I think we did that in the second half, we created some opportunities and I think if we score a goal and it goes to 2-1 then the game changes.”
Bradley was pleased with the way the Black & Gold responded, but the final finish eluded LAFC yet again against a Sounders squad that was content to pack defenders in the box to protect their advantage.
“I think our players did a good job of coming out in the second half and trying hard to push the game in the second half and staying in it until the very end,” Bradley said. “Certainly the challenge that we threw out at halftime was course to go get the next goal and make it 2-1, and then really push. In terms of now some sharpness in moments and advantage and make more of opportunities, not as good as it needs to be.”
The Sounders defended the majority of the second half with heavy numbers, and didn’t allow many prime scoring chances for the usually potent LAFC attack – and the frustration was beginning to come through.
“I think it is just a difficult time for the team, we are not getting the results we want,” Kaye said. “Not every game is a bad performance, but we are getting penalized on some plays, we go behind and we have to fight back. We are not doing ourselves a lot of favors.”
It was the fourth straight game that LAFC has fallen behind first, and the sixth time in their last seven matches.
“We are not as sharp as we need to be,” Kaye said. “There is a lack of concentration on certain plays, myself included We have to keep playing through.”
Bradley Wright-Phillips did have a goal called back in the first half for offsides that could have completely upended the match, but in the end LAFC was stifled by the Sounders.
“We do create opportunities but they are half chances sometimes, and then when we do create real opportunities we don’t put them away and that is the difference right now,” Kaye said. “With the teams we are playing, they create a good chance and they score.”
SECOND HALF ACTION
In some encouraging news for LAFC, both midfielder Eduard Atuesta and defender Andy Najar continued to work their way back form injuries and played the entire 45 minutes of the second half.
Encouraging news, especially for Najar who is making a long recovery from two serious injuries.
“For Andy that is still a step up, so we are getting closer,” Bradley said. “I don’t want to comment on exactly when he is ready for 90, but we want to go in a smart way, and that was another step forward tonight.”
Brian Rodriguez and Diego Rossi were both called in to the Uruguayan National Team this week for upcoming South American World Cup qualifying matches. Rodríguez has already played several times for Uruguay, but this is the first call-up for Rossi – an incredible moment for the 23-year-old who has continued to elevate his game in MLS. The leading goalscorer in the league, Rossi is looking forward to making his debut for the sixth-ranked team in the world by FIFA.
“We are very proud of Diego,” Bradley said. “He has continued to grow as a player, and this has been a goal of his. This is something he has earned just in terms of the way he has played and his commitment to the team, and his effort and talent. Those are things that obviously were recognized, and it is great for him.”