Los Angeles, California (March 24, 2019) — It was a match that was one of — if not the first — one circled when the MLS schedules were released. A chance for Los Angeles FC to extract revenge against the team that knocked them out of the MLS Playoffs last season.
Real Salt Lake came into the match short handed missing five first team players, giving Los Angeles an added boost of confidence.
LAFC defend The Banc with defender Walker Zimmerman’s late winner
The match started out all Los Angeles, with the hosts peppering the goal and maintaining a majority of the possession throughout the first half. The match was as physical as expected with four yellow cards shown in the first 25 minutes.
A penalty for Real Salt Lake opened up scoring in the 35th minute as Damir Kreilach converted and gave the visitors a one-point lead. However, the response was swift for LAFC, with Diego Rossi finding the end of a deflected ball in the box to level things up in the 40th minute.
The second half was a bit more subdued in terms of chances. It was clear Real Salt Lake were happy with the draw and proceeded to prioritize defense. The physical play continued, and after a couple more yellows — and several warnings — it was substitute Justin Portillo who saw red in the 85th minute, after just nine minutes on the pitch.
In what has become expected at this point, LAFC took advantage of the extra man in stoppage time. LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman found space outside the box and let fly a curveball that left Nick Rimando stuck to his spot as he watched the ball hit the back of the net — and a point slip away.
— LAFC (@LAFC) March 24, 2019
- LA Attack Figured OutPerhaps not completely, but the last two weeks have served a bit of a blueprint for slowing down a potent attack. Much like NYCFC, Real Salt Lake attempted to keep LA from setting up the wings to send balls into the box. While the tactic has yet to stop the free-flowing attack, it has shown to slow it down at times. Something to watch going forward.
- Physicality welcomed: For whatever reason, the idea that a physical game will throw off this side has crept in the minds into teams around the league. That continues to be proven false. LAFC not only doesn’t run from it, but welcomes it. Willing to play just as hard and physical as anyone, Los Angeles has proven more than once they have no problem using the entire 90 minutes to grind out the three points if need be.
- Second-year Swag: One name: Walker Zimmerman. In addition to tonight’s late game winner, Zimmerman has shown his growth coming into year two since the first friendly in the summer. He has solidified his starting spot as center back and has begun to show signs of leadership among the team. Already developing himself into a wall at the back, if he begins to add the ability to score, watch out. Zimmerman looks poised to have a breakout year in 2019.
LAFC will take a short trip short trip to visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. San Jose have yet to win a match this season and sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Those away on international duty should be back with the squad by then. However, whether they will be fit to play remains to be seen. Either way, another three points should be in the bag against a woeful Quakes side.