LAFC’s Latif Blessing breaking off from Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman. (Photo by Robert Torrence)

On Wednesday, LAFC played Real Salt Lake, a team far too close for comfort in the standings for LAFC, sitting just a point behind at the start of the game. The biggest question surrounding this game was whether the spectators could expect the LAFC of old, prone to dominate their opponents in the midfield and finishing games off with clinical precision, or the LAFC of recent weeks: a team that starts games out strong but folds somewhere in the middle and concedes goals late in the match. Luckily for LAFC fans, the former showed up ready to play, beating Real Salt Lake 2-0 with a brace from recent LAFC signee and hometown hero Christian Ramirez in his full LAFC debut.

In the 13thminute, LAFC midfielder Carlos Vela gained possession of the ball from Benny Feilhaber, he then roped a hard pass to Christian Ramirez. Ramirez gathered the ball with a brilliant first touch and with the outside of his right boot, curved the ball beyond the reach of Real Salt Lake’s goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

LAFC looked dominant in the first half as in the 30thminute it happened again. LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta picked the ball up in the midfield and made a dashing run towards the box. Atuesta mapped out his options and crossed the ball low and hard, cutting through everyone in the box, eventually finding the feet of who else but Christian Ramirez.

LAFC were on cruise control for the entirety of the second half and the game would end 2-0. Christian Ramirez, a Southern California native from Santa Ana, had a dream debut, scoring two goals in front of his hometown fans.

On Sunday, August 19th, LAFC played their third match in nine days against the struggling Colorado Rapids sitting next to last place in the West. Once again the biggest question looming over the minds of the LAFC faithful was which team was going to show up at the Banc: the team that beat Real Salt Lake handily, or the team that was routed by Minnesota United in a toothless performance a week earlier? Tired legs and exhaustion were also a big factor going into this game because of the sheer number of miles the LAFC players have undergone within the past nine days. Luckily for the Black and Gold faithful, the team that they’ve grown to know and love showed up in full force, winning the match 2-0 against the Colorado Rapids.

The match started off shaky, with Colorado controlling much of the tempo. For the first 30 minutes of the match or so, neither team looked effective. It seemed each of them was merely going through the motions comfortable to go into halftime with the score at nil apiece.

Things started to heat up at the end of the first half however. In the 35thminute, the Rapids Niki Jackson made a hurling run from the midfield into LAFC’s final third and shot the ball on target comfortably for LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller.

In response, just a minute later in the 36th, LAFC went on the prowl with Carlos Vela, who was able to maneuver his way close to the goal getting a shot off from a tight angle from about 10 yards out, forcing a palmed save from Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard.

In the 45+3rdminute, Laurent Ciman won a free kick from about 35 yards out from goal. Ciman, who has been known to score from this sweet spot was poised to take it himself. The shot blistered towards the goal, obliging Tim Howard to make another save with the ball narrowly missing the top corner off a deflected bounce for the last chance of the first half.

The second half saw a more ambitious and clinical approach by LAFC.

In the 49thminute, a cross from LAFC right back Steven Beitashour was headed away by the Rapids defense into the path of LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen who hustled his way to the second ball. The rapids defense closed in on Nguyen as he kept possession in close quarters and in the blink of an eye, turned his defender and executed a slap shot finish with his left foot to put the ball past Tim Howard and put LAFC up 1-0.

In the 80thminute, LAFC forward Adama Diomande fashioned an inventive pass that completely bamboozled the Rapids defense into the path of a streaking Diego Rossi. Rossi continued his strong run into the final third making a few cuts on the ball before rocketing a shot with his favored right foot past Tim Howard into the top right corner for the 2-0 lead.

While not the team’s best performance, the two wins represent a welcome return to form. When they want to be, LAFC are a force to be reckoned with. The Black and Gold face their crosstown rivals the LA Galaxy once again, at the StubHub Center in Carson this Thursday August 24, for their third rendition of El Tráfico this year. The Galaxy currently lead the contest four points to LAFC’s one.