Adrien Perez Shields Ball LAFC at VAN 201014 IMG

Black & Gold Endgame | LAFC 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps 10/14/20

LAFC 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

MLS Regular Season – Game #17

Oct. 14, 2020

 

A short-handed LAFC team traveled to the Pacific Northwest to face the Vancouver Whitecaps in Portland on Wednesday, and despite suffering a 2-1 defeat, still managed to make history in an exciting second half that nearly saw the Black & Gold come away with a late equalizer.

With seven usual starters missing due to injury or national team call-ups, the LAFC Academy and youth movement became the focus, as 16-year-old Christian Torres was the first LAFC Academy to start an MLS match, and Academy product Erik Dueñas made his MLS debut.

Vancouver took a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute on a goal from Lucas Cavallini. Cavallini struck again in the 59th minute, but after a flurry of substitutions in the 70th minute, LAFC made things interesting with some dangerous play, and an Eduard Atuesta penalty kick goal in the 83rd minute cut the deficit in half.

“I thought we started the second half in a much brighter way, the tempo got picked up a little bit,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said.  “This was a night where we would also say not enough guys played well.”

 

MISSING IN ACTION

With regular starters Carlos Vela, Tristan Blackmon, and Mark-Anthony Kaye injured heading into Wednesday’s match vs. Vancouver, and Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Palacios and Jose Cifuentes all with the Uruguay and Ecuador National Teams for South American World Cup Qualifying matches, LAFC was looking to face Vancouver without seven players who have played the majority of their minutes this year.

“That is the nature of the season,” Bradley said. “The schedule is such that games come quickly, and I think we’ve continued to try to keep everybody as focused as possible and keep them positive and strong.”

Bradley was forced to adjust once again, starting his 14th different starting lineup of the season, and providing Christian Torres with his first career MLS start and also giving extensive time to a backline of Jordan Harvey, Dejan Jaković, Eddie Segura and Mohamed El-Munir that had success vs. the Sounders just three days before.

“It is a crazy year. You can spend all your time complaining about things, but that doesn’t get you very far,” Bradley said. “So, we have tried to focus on terms of our football and continue to develop a mentality and an ability to compete to go with the quality of the football. I think we’ve seen some good signs, but there have been some inconsistencies and all you can do is get ready for the next game.”

 

HISTORY MADE

On Oct. 11 against the Sounders, Christian Torres made history as the first LAFC Academy product to play 45+ minutes when he entered as a halftime substitute. His strong play vs. Seattle earned him his first MLS career start, and the historic first start of an LAFC Academy product.

At 16 years, 183 days old, Torres became the youngest player to start a game in MLS in 2020, and the youngest since Sounders prospect Danny Leyva started a match in 2019 at 16 years, 31 days old.

Torres played 45 minutes on Wednesday vs. Vancouver, coming out at halftime with Adrien Perez replacing him.

“Today in the first half, from the whole team it wasn’t good,” Bradley said. “It wasn’t an easy half. There was no fluidity and we never got much going. Christian didn’t make much of an impact, it was not an easy situation in the half for him.”

The LAFC Academy made even more history against the Whitecaps when Erik Dueñas entered the match in the 71st minute. Dueñas is an incredible Black & Gold success story, starting with the Club as a member of the very first LAFC Academy team as a U-12 player. He is the longest-tenured LAFC player, and the hard-nosed Dueñas saw his Academy success story culminate in a strong 20 minute performance that helped LAFC frantically scrap back into the game.

“I thought Erik came on and played well for us,” Bradley said. “That was one of the positives late in the game.”

Dueñas is now the third youngest player to ever appear in an MLS match in the 25-year history of the league. He takes his place among some pretty notable players.

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS TO APPEAR IN AN MLS GAME

Player                          Team                Age At First Appearance

Freddy Adu                   D.C. United       14 years, 306 days

Alphonso Davies           Vancouver        15 years, 257 days

Erik Dueñas                  LAFC                 15 years, 362 days

 

TO BE YOUNG IS TO BE…

Christian Torres and Erik Dueñas were not the only young LAFC players to play significant minutes Wednesday at Vancouver. Nineteen-year-old Bryce Duke came on as a second half substitute and his energetic play helped create a penalty in the box that led to LAFC’s only goal.

“I thought some of the young players like Bryce and Mahala came on and did well for us,” Bradley said.

Despite earning some quality minutes, Duke was disappointed.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted,” Duke said. “We just need to keep focused on the positive and then the negatives that we have, focus on those in training. It wasn’t our best game, especially in the first half.”

Nineteen-year-old attacker Mahala appeared in his second LAFC match in the 71st minute. The speedy Ghanaian was dangerous throughout, causing numerous problems for the Vancouver on both the right and left side of the attack. The Accra, Ghana native and product of the Attram De Visser Soccer Academy in Ghana was impressive in his first extended minutes.

“It was a great opportunity for me to come in and play,” Mahala said. “It was a good start for me, I’m getting used to everything.”

 

GOAL BREAKDOWN

Two defensive breakdowns, one in the first half and the other early in the second let Vancouver get off to an early 2-0 advantage – and were the kind of plays that make it difficult for Bradley to watch the game film.

“I didn’t think we did a good enough job of playing quickly, making quick passes and making good decisions on the ball,” Bradley said about a difficult first half.

On the first Whitecaps goal in the 30th minute, Vancouver found an outlet and caught LAFC in transition, getting behind the Black & Gold central defense and putting away the opportunity in front of the net.

LAFC started the second half with more energy and picked up the tempo in an effort to tie the game, before getting caught in yet another Vancouver counterattack.

“Again, we didn’t defend well enough in front of the goal,” Bradley said.

Up 2-0, Vancouver attempted to close down the center of the field on the Black & Gold, squeezing the midfield and then fighting hard for second balls. Despite an effective game plan, Bradley felt there were still opportunities for LAFC to exploit.

“We weren’t sharp enough,” Bradley said.  “There were still spaces to make passes and opportunities for us to play quicker, and that part wasn’t sharp enough. For some stretches in the second half we were able to handle it and reestablish control and start to play again.”

 

BOB HAS TO WAIT TO MOVE UP

Bob Bradley continues to make history with LAFC. One of the most decorated coaches in American Soccer, Bradley is a three-time MLS Coach of the Year award winner and remains just one victory away from another milestone.

The win vs. Seattle on Oct. 11 was Bradley’s 168th career victory. He is just one win away from tying former Houston and San Jose coach and current Galaxy assistant coach Dominic Kinnear for third in all-time coaching wins.

Bradley can surpass Kinnear with two more wins this season that will push him into third place all-time, behind just Sigi Schmid (240 wins) and Bruce Arena (217).

 

ALL-TIME COACHING RECORDS

 

W
 

L
 

T
 

Sigi Schmid
 

240
 

183
 

125
 

Bruce Arena
 

217
 

127
 

104
 

Dominic Kinnear
 

169
 

137
 

135
 

Bob Bradley
 

168
 

114
 

75
 

 

 

 

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