The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and the Portland Timbers met for the second time in the last four days, and this time it was for a berth in the semi-finals of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup.
For LAFC they had quite a few things riding on the game. They were trying to maintain their nine game unbeaten record at their home Banc of California Stadium. They were looking for their first win against the TImbers having gone 0-1-1 against them. LAFC was also trying to continue their quest in becoming the third MLS expansion team to win the tournament.
LAFC went three for three as they defeated the Timbers 3-2 to move on in their quest for the teams first trophy in just their first year.
These were the three keys to the LAFC 3-2 win…
Three Headed Dragon
LAFC’s early offensive success at the beginning of the season was due to the play of Carlos Vela, Marco Urena, and Diego Rossi. When Urena went down with a facial injury and Vela was called up for Mexico in the FIFA World Cupthe triumverate was broken up.
Coach Bob Bradley took nothing to chance and put the three together again since Urena was lost to injury. Bradley was rewarded as the three continually harassed the Timbers defense Urena forced an own goal on the first goal of the game, Vela followed up with a goal of his own, and Urena got one in his own right scoring right after the half.
LAFC did a good job of being aggressive on the offensive side of the ball but some critical mistakes made the game closer than it should have been.
Just minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half, LAFC gave up a dangerous free kick that ended up biting them as the Timbers scored on header by Julio Cascante and after Urena scored to put LAFC up 3-1 Timbers immediately scored on a counter to make it a one goal game again.
With four in the back Los Angeles should have done a better job on the counter and just like the late goals in a 2-2 tie with Houston Dynamo two weeks ago their set piece defense was woeful. Bob Bradley needs to address these mistakes going forward.
Tyler Miller Saves..again
After a master performance in Sunday’s game where goalkeeper Tyler Miller stopped six shots, he was needed once again Wednesday night. Despite the two goals given up Miller was again outstanding, he had a double save early in the game to keep it 0-0. In the second half Miller maintained his poise keeping it a one goal game.
Miller finds himself in the top five of the MLS in saves and has seven clean sheets as he has started all 22 LAFC games across all competitions. When the defense falters like it did at times on Wednesday night Miller has been there to save his team.