LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Football Club maintained its early-season dominance over Major League Soccer on Thursday, overwhelming FC Dallas without having to push itself to do so while securing a 2-0 victory at Banc of California to begin a string of three matches in nine days.
Team captain and star Carlos Vela found the net in the opening half and Diego Rossi added to the Black & Gold tally late in the match as LAFC swarmed Dallas while remaining stout on the defensive end.
Vela’s play prompted chants of “M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P” from an announced crowd of 22,001, and produced several hard fouls over the course of the match, including one near the end of the match that LAFC head coach Bob Bradley called “dirty” and deserving of a red card.
“You can’t have it every week that a guy who never complains on the field, constantly trying to take the ball and create things, comes in two weeks in a row talking about a broken leg,” Bradley said.
Despite Dallas’ physical play, Vela said he walked off the pitch feeling fit.
“It was not a good way to play, not only for me but for any other soccer player,” Vela said. “We’re in the same business and have to be a little smart. Fair play, you know?”
The best weapon in MLS connected in the 39th minute to give Bradley’s side a 1-0 lead at the half on the Mexican’s league-leading 13th goal – one off his 2018 total despite playing 15 fewer games.
Vela remains the only player in MLS with double-digit goals.
Battling to retain the ball in the attacking third, LAFC center forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Eduard Atuesta scrapped to create a turnover. Rossi gathered the ball and started a sequence in which seven LAFC players touched the ball, eventually setting up Vela off an assist by Atuesta, his fifth of the season.
Vela nearly pulled off a first-half hat trick but a direct free kick clanged off the crossbar in the first quarter hour of the match, then he hit one off the post 15 minutes later.
All told, Vela tied his season high for shots with eight.
LAFC didn’t only rely on Vela to create chances, and Dallas goalkeeper Jose Luis Gonzalez was forced to make three first-half saves to keep the game competitive. Gonzalez added another in the second half as LAFC looked to increase its lead late in the match.
Rossi’s seventh goal, his first since a hat-trick against D.C. United in early April, came in the 83rd minute after referee Allen Chapman used video review to determine that Adama Diomande, who entered the match for Ramirez at the hour mark, was onside as he delivered a pass to the young winger.
The visitors, meanwhile, couldn’t manage a shot, corner kick or cross through the first 45 minutes. Dallas (5-4-2, 17 points) managed seven shots in the second half, none that required a Tyler Miller save.
Miller hasn’t needed to make more than two saves in a match since LAFC’s only defeat of the season at Vancouver on April 17.
The only action around the LAFC goalkeeper came when the American leaped in the air to corral a ball and kneed Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios in the chin. The Colombian was forced off the field early in the second half as Dallas fought to make a dent in the game.
LAFC’s third consecutive shutout, a total of 359 minutes without conceding, keeps them atop the MLS Western Conference and gives them 30 points to lead the Supporter’s Shield race.
LAFC (9-1-3) didn’t hit 30 points until June 30 last season. The club heads to Dallas for a rematch this Sunday before welcoming Montreal to Banc of California Stadium on May 24, its last home date until July 6.
“We don’t start thinking about how many points or this or that or anything else,” Bradley said. “We’ve got a game on Sunday and we’ll see if we can do some really good things.”
Lucky number 13
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 17, 2019
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 17, 2019
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