On Saturday, June 9, 2018 the Los Angeles Football Club travelled north to Silicon Valley to face the San Jose Earthquakes for what can be dubbed as the “new” California Clàsico. This would prove to be a big test for the Black and Gold as they were without some of their big guns, including Carlos Vela (Mexico), Laurent Ciman (Belgium) and Marcos Urena (Costa Rica), who are all away for the World Cup in Russia.
However, despite such a large piece of their core missing, LAFC’s fringe players and youngsters were able to step up and answer the call for the team, which ultimately prevailed in a hard fought 4-3 victory.
In the 11th minute, San Jose began the scoring after Valeri Qazaishvili made a run into the box and was found with an overhead pass that he flicked awkwardly but perfectly past LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller to give the Quakes an early 1-0 lead.
Just four minutes later however, LAFC ‘s Adama Diomande would even the score when teammate João Moutinho crossed a dangerous ball into the box that was poorly mishandled by the San Jose defense, which instead of clearing the ball out of danger, knocked it into the path of Diomande who headed it back into San Jose’s goal for a 1-1 tie.
Just four minutes after that, LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye found possession at the top of San Jose’s box and in an attempt to either pass or shoot, kicked the ball towards goal. The ball took a fortunate deflection off a San Jose Defender into the path of a Beitashour, who was then able to clean up the finish and put LAFC up 2-1.
Both sides had numerous chances to add to their tally before the half but neither side was able to capitalize and the half ended at 2-1 with one yellow card caution apiece awarded to each side.
Seven minutes after the halftime break in the 52nd minute, San Jose’s captain Chris Wondolowski leveled the score with an untouchable curling shot that floated over the head of LAFC keeper Tyler Miller, who could do absolutely nothing to stop it.
With the game tied 2-2, both sides became restless, each trying to nudge out the win. Things would turn for the worse in the 63rd minute when San Jose’s captain Chris Wondolowski scored yet again after a back pass to LAFC keeper Tyler Miller went awry and was able to finish the ball into an empty net, putting his side on top, 3-2.
Things were not looking good for LAFC as the game neared its end when in the 90th minute, LAFC defender Steven Beitashour crossed a dangerous ball into San Jose’s box and after some fortunate deflections, eventually found the feet of LAFC striker Adama Diomande, who brought LAFC back from the brink to once again level the score at 3-3.
With the game now tied, it looked as though LAFC and San Jose were going to each share the point with one another due to the pending tied score at game’s end. However, in the 90th+6th minute, San Jose’s Kevin Partida was shown a red card for his overly aggressive challenge on LAFC’s Latif Blessing. Just a minute later with San Jose now playing a man down, LAFC was able to exploit the man advantage and open space in the 90th+7th minute when midfielder Lee Nguyen found Latif Blessing running into open space. Blessing’s first touch was near perfect as it allowed him to continue with possession in stride. He then crossed a low ball with pace into San Jose’s box where it found LAFC Defender João Moutinho, who finished a striker-esque ball perfectly into the bottom right corner of the net to give LA the last-gasp 4-3 victory.
With the World Cup on the horizon keeping some of their stars playing for their respective countries in Russia, LAFC will need to sustain this momentum they built in San Jose with the modified roster, if they are to have any hopes of staying near the top of the table.