On Saturday, May 26, LAFC hosted the last place seed in the east D.C. United at Banc of California Stadium, the match would end in a 1-1 draw. Just days after coming off an impressive draw with European giant Borussia Dortmund, which saw each respective club’s B teams showcasing their young talent. Though not a league match, LAFC held their own and took the game with great pride, and even though not considered an unequivocally important match, both teams youngsters displayed great integrity throughout the game taking the match as seriously as if it were a qualifier.
The temperature at kickoff was perfect soccer conditions and the sell-out stadium crowd completed the elated game-time atmosphere.
The first 15 minutes of the game were open with both teams trying to figure one another out. Then in the 22nd minute, LAFC nearly broke the scoring when Rossi connected an air pass to Mark-Anthony Kaye, who went just wide of the goal with his header hitting the post.
In the 38th minute, LAFC’s Atuesta gathered the ball in midfield and made a composed run towards the box before blasting a long-range effort that barely missed high and out of mind for D.C.’s keeper. Just a minute later, however, Benny Feilhaber of LAFC passed the ball to a darting Mark-Anthony Kaye at the edge of the box who lost his footing on the ball but was able to narrowly nudge the ball to a waiting Rossi, who was making a run from the other side of the box. And with his side foot, nestled a curling ball on the ground into the corner pocket of the net.
With LAFC up 1-0, D.C. began to advance their attack. In the 45th+2 minute, D.C. United’s Paul Arriola was making a run into LAFC’s half when he was taken down by Dejan Jakovic who was shown an immediate red card and sent off for the rest of the match.
The second half saw LAFC up one goal but down a man. To help keep a cohesive defensive shape, LAFC coach Bob Bradley subbed in Portuguese youngster Jõao Moutinho for Latif Blessing.
In the 64th minute, it looked as though LAFC had won a penalty when Jordan Harvey’s shot was apparently deflected off a D.C United defenders hand. However, after several minutes of delay, the decision was taken back via the referees viewing of the VAR(Video Review) system and LAFC’s penalty was rescinded.
Though LAFC had the 10-man disadvantage and the withdrawn penalty, it seemed as though they were going to barely edge out the win, that was until the 84th minute when D.C. United’s Darren Mattocks received a header in the box and directed it with ease past LAFC keeper Tyler Miller.
The referee motioned for an extra 7 minutes of stoppage time due to the many injuries and game delays. Both teams tried earnestly to squeak out the win, with both sides seeing multiple chances glance just out of reach as the clock ran out.
Saturdays match was a controversial one, and not just because of the red card shown to Dejan Jakovic. It was a choppy match, marred the ambiguous implementation of the VAR system, which many believe to ruin the purity of the sport, including LAFC coach Bob Bradley.
“The second half becomes so confusing between what gets looked at again, what doesn’t—for me it just drives me crazy and ruins the game. You know some calls in football(soccer) are 60/40, that’s just the way football works…and then we guess, we make a choice…in the old days you make a pick and then the game goes on. Now you make a pick and [the referee] says no let me look again, this time 61/39 now I change my mind, this is just turning everything…it just ruins the game, it kills the flow nobody knows what gets looked at again, what doesn’t.”
This was also Carlos Vela(Mexico) and Laurent Ciman’s(Belgium) last game with LAFC before they join their respective national teams in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Vela and Ciman will be hard voids to fill, but if the recent match against Borussia Dortmund is any indication, LAFC’s depth pool are more than capable of picking up the baton until he returns.