On Saturday, September 15, LAFC returned to Banc of California stadium. After a two-week international hiatus, LAFC was back in action against the New England Revolution. The former team of LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen, the Revolution are struggling this year sitting in the eighth spot in the East with LAFC currently sitting in 3rd place amidst a nearing playoff berth.
The looming questions before the match have remained unchanged for several weeks now. Coach Bob Bradley has a plethora of attacking talent on his roster, but turning them into a cohesive unit is something else entirely. With Adama Diomande still out with an adductor strain injury, it makes his decisions a bit easier for the time being, but when Diomande returns, the proven attacker will be wondering where his place on the team is. The other major question surrounding the team is the melding of a solid defense, especially with the loss of the team’s former captain and defensive stalwart Laurent Ciman, who was traded to Ligue 1’s Dijon FCO before the international break.
The match against the Revolution answered a lot of questions, but raised a few more in the process.
The start of the match was shaky for both sides. However, New England was not afraid to press LAFC on and off the ball and came out with ferocity, making it abundantly clear that this was not going to be an easy match, especially for an LAFC team still trying to figure out a sustainable and reliable starting 11.
Things nearly went LAFC’s way in the 19th minute, when LAFC midfielder Carlos Vela found forward Marco Ureña with a permeating through ball on the run. It was a long run for Ureña who in the end could not get enough of an angle on the ball to challenge Brad Knighton, the New England Revolution keeper and kicked the ball wide of goal.
In the 43rd minute of play, a beautiful overhead pass from LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman set Diego Rossi loose down the wing, past the Revolution defense before attempting to shoot the ball towards goal and deflected out of play by Knighton. In the 47th minute, LAFC midfielder Lee Ngyuen threaded a beautiful ball into the feet of a sprinting Ureña, whose shot was denied again by Revolution keeper Brad Knighton.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 52nd minute, when a few mishits from Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi caused some confusion in the box when the Revolution defense to react with Rossi passing the ball out wide to a waiting Ureña who slap shot the ball first time, through the legs of a Revolution defender and off the keeper Knighton and in to put the Black and Gold up 1-0. For Ureña’s first LAFC goal to date.
After LAFC’s goal, New England began to grow into the game with LAFC’s defense becoming more porous as the minutes went by.
LAFC nearly conceded in the 64th minute, when the Revolution’s Juan Agudelo received a good ball inside the box, and hit it right to Tyler Miller to the relief of the LAFC faithful.
In the 74th minute, LAFC rightback Steven Beitashour found a wide-open Diego Rossi with a nice crosspitch pass. Rossi collected the ball with a nice touch and made his way to the six-yard box with the deftest of touches, before spearing a shot into the chest of the New England keeper and deflecting out of danger.
In the 79th minute, New England almost added one of their own when Revolution midfielder Luis Caicedo laced a long-ranged effort that was heroically batted away by Tyler Miller.
A mere two minutes later in the 81st, Caicedo challenged Tyler Miller yet again, eliciting a brilliant reaction save from the LAFC keeper.
With New England continuing to knock on the door, it was only a matter of time before the payoff. In the 82nd minute, New England forward Teal Bunbury received a pass on the right side of the 18-yard box, managing to evade the LAFC defense before crossing the ball in the air to a leaping Brandon Bye to level the scoring at 1-1 where the game would finish.