Needing at least a point to keep their playoff hopes alive, LAFC thrashed the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night remaining in the conversation for a postseason berth.
Bob Bradley’s side moved into seventh place in the Western Conference on 44 points after a 3-0 triumph at Banc of California Stadium. Across the board it was a night of positives for the Black and Gold with much maligned designated player Brian Rodriguez opening the scoring in the first half, Carlos Vela making his return from injury, and the LAFC backline earning their first clean sheet since September 3.
“A lot of guys stepped up,” said Bradley. “We’ve got to take this and get ready for a really important game next Tuesday against Vancouver.”
A clean sheet speaks to an improved defense for the Black and Gold, but Jamaal Blackman was the star of the night, making five saves and earning his first clean sheet in MLS since joining LAFC on a free transfer in September.
Tonight's FLEX Power Tools Save of the Match: @Big_Blacks quick reaction in the 47th minute.
— LAFC (@LAFC) October 27, 2021
“Tonight was a good effort, but in the moments where we slipped a little bit Jamaal came through,” said Bradley.
Cristian Arango also added his 13th goal in 15 matches for LAFC, but the attack received big boost with Vela playing 12 minutes in his return from an 11-match absence due to a recurring hamstring issue.
“Carlos is a special player and a special part of our club,” said Bradley. “Tonight was just to get him back and now we’ll see between now and next Tuesday how much progress we can make.”
Having the 2019 MLS MVP as an option in the attack is a major addition to a team pushing for a playoff spot and the trio of Vela, Arango and Rodriguez is a scary proposition for any potential playoff opponent.
With two matches remaining, LAFC must shift their focus from Tuesday’s midweek victory to the massive showdown against the Vancouver Whitecaps on November 2. The Whitecaps are tied with LAFC on points, but the Black and Gold hold the tiebreaker due to total wins.
After their matchup with the Whitecaps, LAFC concludes their regular season with an away match against the Colorado Rapids on November 7. Both matches will be intense, but LAFC remains up for the fight knowing any slip-ups could see their season end.
“We came into this match knowing it was very important and we are aware that the next match is going to be the same” said forward Brian Rodriguez. “Coming into the next match we are going to play as well as we did tonight.”
“It is the end of the season. We have to play our best, fight for everyball and fight for every win,” said midfielder Latif Blessing.