LAFC defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at Banc of California Stadium as efforts from Chicho Arango, Ismael Tajouri and Jose Cifuentes keep their side atop the Western Conference table.
The visiting side kicked off the scoring in the 38th minute. Though technically an own goal by Diego Palacios, it was Johnny Russell who curated the play that led to the 1-0. The Sporting Kansas City figure took possession at the half, making a strong run from the right to reach the box and strike the ball before it bounced off of Palacios and into the back of the net.
LAFC wasted no time in equalizing, finding the goal only six minutes later. Following a dangerous set piece by Chicho Arango, Mamadou Fall found the rebound and set up the Colombian for a header to the bottom left corner.
But it was the substitutes who secured the win for LAFC.
Ismael Tajouri came off the bench in the 61st minute to double the score for LAFC, working off a pass by Diego Palacios before firing the stunning left footed strike into the top left corner. Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia dove to make the save, but there was no stopping Tajouri’s shot.
Jose Cifuentes followed in Tajouri’s footsteps, coming onto the pitch to make an impact immediately. The substitute found a ball by Jesus David Murillo inside the box to manage the right footed shot into the bottom corner for the 3-1.
The victory allows LAFC to lead the Western Conference with a record of 5-1-1 and 16 points. On the other hand, Sporting Kansas City falls to 12th, with only six points in eight matches.
GK: Maxime Crépeau – 8/10 – Made the necessary saves, players can trust he’ll provide the needed stability at the back.
RB: Ryan Hollingshead – 7.5/10 – As expected, strong on the right and defended accordingly when necessary.
CB: Jesús Murillo – 7.5/10 – Solid at the back with two necessary clearances, and provided Cifuentes with the assist in the team’s third goal.
CB: Mamadou Ibra Mbacke Fall – 7/10 – Great at times and assisted Chicho’s goal, but reckless fouls when frustrations run high that need to unnecessary yellows. He’ll miss out LAFC’s next game due to card accumulation.
LB: Diego Palacios – 7/10 – Technically an own goal while defending, but otherwise active throughout the pitch assisting when needed.
CM: Latif Blessing – 7/10 – Decent, but not as threatening on the attack as Cherundolo needed for this match.
CM: Ilie Sánchez – 7.5/10 – Took on a defensive role throughout the match, lacked a creative edge when pushing forward.
CM: Kellyn Acosta – 7.5/10 – Have seen him be more individually threatening and bold, but played a great supporting role.
RW: Kwadwo Opoku – 7/10 – Got more involved with time, but 27 touches in over 60 minutes is disappointing.
F: Carlos Vela – 7.5/10 – Not his sharpest game, too careful when pushing forward but given that he served as Sporting Kansas City’s piñata, its understandable.
LW: Chicho Arango – 8.5/10 – Great effort on the attack, recorded several threatening opportunities before scoring a goal.
SUB: – Ismael Tajouri (’66 for Opoku) – 10/10 – Came off the bench to score his first home goal since joining.
SUB: Jose Cifuentes (’66 for Blessing) – 10/10 – Came off the bench to score the team’s third.
SUB: Danny Musovski (’74 for Arango) – 7/10 – 5 touches, entered an already decided match.
SUB: Francisco Ginella (’81 for Acosta) – N/A
GK: Tim Melia – 7/10 – Not his sharpest match, but cannot be blamed for the second goal.
RB: Graham Zusi – 6/10 – Expected more from the experienced defender, too easy on Tajouri and Cifuentes when in a clear position to score.
CB: Nicolas Isimat-Mirin – 6.5/10 – Reckless on fouls when frustrated, but made seven necessary clearances.
CB: Andreu Fontàs – 7.5/10 – A solid effort on the defense, acted accordingly when LAFC pushed forward, did not appear overwhelmed like most of his teammates.
LB: Logan Ndenbe – 7/10 – Not the worst of Sporting’s backline, made two clearance to remain average.
CM: Rémi Walter – 6/10 – Not enough coverage on Cifuentes during the third goal, and disappointing efforts during the first goal.
CM: Roger Espinoza – 6/10 – Overwhelmed by LAFC’s offense, missed a clear opportunity in the first half but otherwise no real impact.
CAM: Marinos Tzionis – 7/10 – More was expected, did not capitalize on his creativity when pushing forward and instead fell back after the second goal.
RW: Johnny Russell – 8/10 – Best player on the pitch for Sporting Kansas City, looked hungry for the goal and active throughout the pitch. Came close to the net a couple times, but did not stop creating.
LW: Dániel Sallói – 7/10 – Took 45 minutes for the player to get comfortable on the pitch, but got increasingly more into the match as the second half progressed. 1 shot on target, 1 off target.
F: Khiry Shelton – 7/10 – Not enough to stand as the lone striker, one off target shot in over 75 minutes of action is not nearly enough. Did not play a supporting role either.
SUB: Felipe Hernández (’66 for Espinoza) – 6/10 – Did not do enough to stand out.
SUB: Nikola Vujnović (’76 for Shelton) – 7/10 – Entered an already decided match.
SUB: Cameron Duke (’76 for Tzionis) – 7/10 – Entered an already decided match.
SUB: Robert Voloder (’86 for Fontas) – N/A