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LAFC vs. Sounders, recap: Badly beaten in Los Angeles

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Sounders surrender early and often in 4-1 loss to LAFC.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What was billed as a showdown between the top two teams in MLS quickly devolved into a one-sided affair. LAFC opened the scoring in the 12th minute, extended their lead to 2-0 shortly before halftime, grabbed their third just four minutes after the Sounders cut the deficit to 2-1 and put the game away shortly thereafter.

The Sounders were probably a bit lucky to get out of this game having lost just 4-1, as Stefan Frei came up with several big saves on high-quality chances.

In the end, the Sounders took their first loss of the season and saw their 11-match unbeaten run end emphatically. The four goals allowed were just one fewer than they had allowed in their previous six matches combined.

Key moments

  • Carlos Vela opened the scoring with a well-executed goal in the 12th minute that turned out to be a sign of things to come. Mark Anthony-Kaye was able to split the lines and feed Vela as he found just a little space between Kim Kee-hee and Brad Smith. His left-footed finish was impossible to stop.
  • The Sounders would have been thrilled to get into halftime down just one goal and seemed to have found their footing shortly after Vela’s goal. That all changed in the 39th minute. Nicolas Lodeiro had a pass stolen and Eduard Atuesta raced in. On their back heels, the Sounders still seemed to be well positioned to defend the counter. But Román Torres whiffed badly on a tackle at the top of the box, giving Atuesta a virtually uncontested shot from about 18 yards out.
  • Harry Shipp finally delivered the Sounders a ray of hope in the 51st minute. He collected a pass from Víctor Rodrígez and slotted his shot inside the far post. Suddenly, the Sounders were down just one goal and seemed to have some life.
  • That lasted all of four minutes. Vela again got behind the Sounders defense and scored his 10th goal of the season.
  • Cristian Ramirez finished off any hope the Sounders had of a comeback when he, too, got behind the defense and simply passed the ball into the net.

Talking points

What happened to the defense? Sure, they were without Chad Marshall, but this was not the defense that had allowed less than a goal per game over their previous 25 games. Worse than the four goals themselves were how easy most of them seemed to be.

Is LAFC really this much better than the rest of the league? Ignoring their loss on Wednesday, LAFC has dominated just about everyone they’ve faced. The Black and Gold look particularly unstoppable at home where they are 5-0-0 and have now scored at least four goals in three of their nine matches. As of today, they are clearly the best team in the league.

A quick chance at redemption. As thoroughly as LAFC dominated the Sounders, there’s still a chance the two teams will be even on points this time next week, and Seattle will still have a game in hand. That would require the Sounders to win their midweek home game against the San Jose Earthquakes — who don’t look nearly as awful as they did a few weeks ago — and then take care of business against LAFC next Sunday. It’s a shame that these two teams are scheduled to play inside of a week, but it does offer the Sounders a chance to flip the narrative almost immediately. Of course, there’s also a chance the Sounders could find themselves nine points behind in the Western Conference race ...

Did you see that?!?!

In hindsight, Steven Beitashour’s double nutmeg in the 6th minute was a real sign that this was not the Sounders’ day.

Quote of the day

“We did a bad job of getting in their defensive half, being patient, and knocking the ball around. I think for us, we needed to dictate tempo a little bit better, beat their first line of pressure, and keep the ball and make them run. We didn’t do a good enough job of that.” - Harry Shipp

One stat to tell the tale

12 — The xG on this one is probably going to be ugly as LAFC took 12 of their 16 shots from inside the penalty area, many with no defenders between the ball and Frei.