The Philadelphia Union came out of the gates with purpose. For the first 15 minutes, the Union were connecting passes and dominating midfield play setting a precedent that LAFC would need to adapt to. It was apparent that LAFC were still missing their attacking maestro in Carlos Vela, who at the time this article was written, was still away on international duty. Mexico have since been eliminated from tournament play, but it is unclear when exactly LAFC’s prodigal son will return into the fold. Though the strong start from Philadelphia put LAFC on their back heels, they regained their defensive form as the first half continued.
In the 25th minute, after some back and forth midfield play, LAFC finally found their breakthrough. Philadelphia defender Auston Trusty lost possession in his half when LAFC forward Adama Diomande picked the ball away from him and made his way into the Union’s final third. With a right footed cut-back and then another on the left, Diomande deceptively created the space he needed to get the shot off and finish just beyond the reach of Philadelphia’s keeper to put LAFC up 1-0.
Just three minutes later, Philadelphia nearly equalized off a corner when Union captain and former United States National team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya headed a ball towards goal, but was defended away and out of danger by LAFC defender João Moutinho to retain the lead.
LAFC remained relentless in their attacking force. Philadelphia defended nobly but it was no match for the red-hot form that Diomande was executing as of late, with four goals in four games, more was yet to come.
In the 43rd minute, LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber received the ball at the top of Philadelphia’s box looking for an outlet which he found in Mark Anthony-Kaye, who was making a run in the box. Anthony-Kaye then found Diomande, who was making a run on the opposite side of the box and with his side foot passed the ball into the net for his second of the day.
Things were not perfect for the “Black and Gold” however, as right before the half, Philadelphia equalized when a cross that came into the box was punched away awkwardly by LAFC keeper Tyler Miller right into the path of the Union’s Fabrice-Jean Picault who nestled it away to cut the deficit back to one.
Ten minutes into the second half, LAFC found their way back again. LAFC winger Aaron Kovar(who came on for an injured Eduardo Atuesta) found space on the right side and streaked his way by Philadelphia’s defense. Kovar then put a nice ball into the box towards LAFC forward Latif Blessing who deflected the ball dangerously into the air where it found a perfectly positioned Dio, who slotted the ball into the back of the net completing his hat trick and LAFC’s first in its brief history.
Up 3-1, LAFC were not done yet with their attacking prowess on full blast. In the 60th minute, Atuesta’s replacement Kovar shot a stinger from the top of the box that was subsequently parried away by Philadelphia keeper Andre Blake. Then in the 78th minute, Kovar found space at the top of the box and shot a nearly identical ball to previous shot, hitting the post and back into the path of LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen, who was called offside to the relief of Philadelphia since he had an open goal. It would not be until deep into stoppage time that Latif Blessing would finally find his reward, when Nguyen made a nice run into the box. Trying to beat the keeper with a bending shot Nguyen hit the ball with his side foot nearly beating the keeper. The deflected and found its way into the path of a streaking Blessing who topped off LAFC’s 4-1 win.
“We always have the same game plan,” said hat trick hero Diomande after his historic day.
“Start pressing and going for the first goal—I really don’t care about the numbers of course, I’m not that guy, I’m just going into training everyday smiling with my teammates and it’s just a bonus to get that history–.”