The hard times continued for the Black and Gold last weekend, as LAFC lost their first game at home this past Sunday against Sporting Kansas City, 2-1.
A game that should have been played no-holds barred, against a team that was sitting above LAFC in third place in the West, was instead played tentatively and without confidence and determination by LA’s newest sports franchise. As soon as the team’s starting lineup was announced, it raised questions over the approach to the match. Sporting Kansas City is a strong team that move the ball well and have pace to match.
There was a surprising amount of changes made to the lineup, an ominous sign for some, and a hopeful one for others, especially LA’s newest players. LAFC midfielder Andre Horta started his first game, and Danilo Silva and Christian Ramirez made their LAFC debuts, while LAFC goalkeeper Luis Lopez got the nod over Tyler Miller for his first start.
Laurent Ciman, LAFC’s captain, sat out the entire match, while team stars Carlos Vela and Latif Blessing both sat out for the first half. Additionally, the team’s most reliable goal scorer as of late, Adama Diomande was not featured in the contest at all.
In the first 10 minutes of the match, LAFC started out with a good energy that all but dissipated once Sporting Kansas City Struck first in the 17th minute, when Sporting K.C.’s Gerso Fernandes latched onto a ball played through from the top of the box, beating LAFC goalkeeper Luis López on the far post giving the away team a 1-0 lead.
Arguably, the Black and Gold’s best chance of the night came in the 25th minute when Benny Feilhaber crossed an enticing ball in the path of Marco Ureña in the middle of the box, flashing it over the bar.
No changes were made at the start of the second half to give the starters another chance at redemption, but Sporting K.C. continued to grow in the match as the countdown ticked on. Eventually, the second half saw LAFC’s Vela and Blessing entered the game in the 58th minute, looking to add a more experienced attacking presence and salvage a game that was quickly beginning to evade them.
Carlos Vela nearly made an immediate impact as a super sub in the 60th minute, when he made a cutting run towards the box from the wing, shooting the ball just wide from the edge of the box.
The substitutions turned out to be too little too late because in the 63rd minute, a powerful shot from outside the box was parried back into the center of the box when LAFC defender Dejan Jakovic committed a high boot foul trying to beat Sporting K.C.’s Felipe Gutierrez to the loose ball, conceding a penalty in the fiasco. The penalty was easily converted after a video review confirmed the high boot violation doubling Sporting Kansas City’s lead at 2-0.
In the 79th minute, LAFC almost took one back when Benny Feilhaber chipped a ball into the path of a streaking Andre Horta, redirecting the ball toward Kansas City’s goal. The ball trickled its way past Sporting K.C. goalie Tim Melia missing the head of a diving Christian Ramirez, who had been subbed on 10 minutes prior, by the narrowest of margins.
Over the last 15 minutes of the game, the regenerated LAFC attack lead by Vela and Blessing put Sporting K.C. under greater pressure. In the 84th minute, LAFC newcomer Christian Ramirez had another great chance on goal when a give-and-go with Blessing saw him through on goal, the shot deflecting off the leg of a Sporting K.C. defender high into the air, eliciting a save from Sporting K.C. keeper Tim Melia. In the 90th + 3rd minute, LAFC midfielder threaded a ball into the box for Blessing who couldn’t get enough on his shot to test the Sporting K.C defense, sending it straight to the arms of the keeper for their last good chance of the game.
Whether the success of LAFC’s matches early in the season has left them complacent, or Bob Bradley deciding to save the big guns from tired legs and injuries for the three games-in-nine-days in which LAFC are currently in, the initial team selection left a lot of room for apprehension.
Overall, it was a display from the home team that left a lot to be desired. Two weeks ago, LAFC were sitting in second place. Now, they sit in 5th place, a spot behind the LA Galaxy and one spot above Real Salt Lake, who they play Wednesday, 8/15/18 in a must win match. A loss drops them to sixth place.