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LAFC beat RSL on more late-game heroics; first in MLS to 10 points

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Their 2019 campaign is only four weeks old, but Los Angele FC are making a name for themselves as MLS’s new cardiac kids — masters of late-game drama — with another stoppage-time winner.

[ MORE: Young FCD side tops Rapids | Kljestan, Orlando down Red Bulls ]

After knocking off Sporting Kansas City courtesy of Adama Diomande‘s 94th-minute goal in Week 1, Bob Bradley‘s boys were at it again against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Just as they did against Sporting KC, LAFC fell behind in the first half only to pull level close to halftime and break visiting hearts with 90-plus on the clock. Damir Kreilach converted from the penalty spot in the 35th minute, but the advantage lasted barely five minutes before Diego Rossi equalized in the 40th.

[ MORE: Schalke issue injury update on USMNT’s Weston McKennie ]

Then, in the 91st minute, came the stunning winner from Rossi Carlos Vela  Diomande Christian Ramirez Lee Nguyen Walker Zimmerman(?!).

Whether or not the strike took a deflection or knuckled and swerved in a way that would make the world’s greatest strikers of the ball proud — even Bradley was noncommittal either way — is largely irrelevant.

With a 3W-1D-0L record through the season’s first month, Bradley and Co., have shown their debut MLS season was no fluke. In fact, they’ve made it abundantly clear that it was actually something of a disappointment and they are intent on reaching far greater heights in 2019.

LAFC loses Kaye to injury, reportedly signs Danilo Silva

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LAFC had a roller coaster of a Thursday and they didn’t even take the field.

First, news broke that starting midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye would need ankle surgery, leaving him out for 4-6 months. The 23-year-old left the LA derby against the Galaxy in the 20th minute, with tears in his eyes after being fouled just outside the penalty area.

Kaye is a huge loss for LAFC, proving vital to the club in his first Major League Soccer season after coming over from USL club Louisville City. “He [Kaye] brings a little bit more range, a little bit more ability to get around the ball, a little bit of an ability to close down, win some balls in air, get into the box in both sides,” said manager Bob Bradley at training after news of the injury was announced. “All those things make him a little bit different.”

Bradley said he learned the extent of the injury at halftime of the eventual 2-2 draw with the Galaxy. Kaye had started all but one of LAFC’s 21 MLS matches this season, helping the side to a second-place spot in the Western Conference standings.

However, the club then signed Brazilian defender Danilo Silva, formerly of Brazilian club Internacional and Ukranian giants Dynamo Kiev. According to reports on social media, Silva has signed a one-year loan deal with LAFC from Internacional, with no loan fee and an option to buy. The 31-year-old was surplus to requirements at the Brazilian side, playing just two of their first 16 matches of the season. He has a bit of MLS experience, playing for the MetroStars way back in 2005.

Diomande, LAFC continue to roar, nearing Western lead

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Major League Soccer completed what the World Cup started Saturday by putting a lot more goals on the board, and one player continues to roast everything that comes in his Stateside path.

[ MORE: Ranking the World Cup semifinalists ]

Adama Diomande scored for the seventh and eighth times in five starts to give him nine goals and two assists in 473 minutes to begin life on our shores.

The ex-Hull City striker, 28, is making a mockery of defenses, and is averaging a goal or an assist every 43 minutes following LAFC’s 4-1 beatdown of Orlando City on Sunday.

No one is cleaning up goal mouth messes any better than Diomande, who has been in or near the six for the majority of his markers, and he’s been doing it without World Cup participants Carlos Vela and Marcos Urena (the pair returned to LAFC as subs on Saturday night).

How do we make one of those videos of cartoon sunglasses sliding down onto Bob Bradley‘s face?

Elsewhere
Philadelphia Union 0-2 Atlanta United
Montreal Impact 2-1 Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake 2-0 FC Dallas
Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 Chicago Fire
LA Galaxy 4-0 Columbus Crew
Sporting KC 2-2 Toronto FC
New England Revolution 0-0 Seattle Sounders
Houston Dynamo 3-0 Minnesota United
Portland Timbers 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls — Sunday

Hull City’s Diomande reunites with Bradley in LA (video)

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Adama Diomande is reuniting with the coach who helmed his most successful professional season.

“Adama is a quality goalscorer who brings the experience of playing at a high level in Europe,” said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. “We believe he will have a strong impact in MLS.”

The Hull City man scored 25 goals in 26 matches for Stabaek when Bradley was the manager in 2015, earning a move to the English side. While at Hull, Diomande scored seven goals in 64 matches between the Premier League and Championship.

He joins fellow transfer deadline day acquisition Lee Nguyen in bolstering an LAFC attack with Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. The signing comes on the same day that Costa Rican star Marco Urena was lost indefinitely with a facial injury.

Is this an all excuse to show Diomande’s amazing bicycle kick built for two goal with Abel Hernandez from Premier League Opening Day last season?

I’m not saying we’re silently nodding over here, but…

What we learned from LAFC, Vancouver’s season-opening wins

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Los Angeles FC are off and running with a win in their MLS debut, and the Vancouver Whitecaps were up to their old tricks on opening weekend.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright talked us through the first three lessons of the newborn season yesterday, followed by three more later in the evening…

[ MORE: MLS 2018 season previews ]

Bob Bradley‘s team is well-drilled and extremely organized

This will come as a shock to absolutely no one who watched Bradley’s U.S. national team, Egypt, Stabaek or Le Havre — the less said about Swansea City, the better — but LAFC looked like a team that had been playing together for years: prepared, organized, well-drilled and cohesive.

The knock on Bradley, going back to his USMNT days at the start of the decade, has always been that his teams are boring and unimaginative. He so rarely got credit for how defensively solid the Yanks were at a time when the American player pool sorely lacked creativity.

No such problem for LAFC, who spent big on Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, with above-average MLS recyclables in Marco Ureña, Latif Blessing and Benny Feilhaber filling out the midfield and wings. There’s just enough flair and creativity in that bunch, without sacrificing the defensive work rate and discipline required to remain plenty balanced and safe at the back.

If Vela and Rossi can continue combining for a bit of brilliance like that, creating something out of nothing, this team might just rise above expectations and make some noise in year one.


Playing direct isn’t pretty, but it’s still effective

The Vancouver Whitecaps were arguably the most direct team in the league last year, and then went out and traded for Kei Kamara this offseason. Kamara is, at his best, an unplayable aerial target and constant source of free kicks won.

Take a player like Kamara, give him speed on either wing like Cristian Techera and Alphonso Davies, and play to the man’s strengths: get the ball forward quickly, either to him or diagonally to the wingers and play fast. That’s exactly what Carl Robinson did on Sunday, as Vancouver blitzed the visiting Montreal Impact for a pair of goals shortly after the hour mark, then hung on for the 2-1 win after conceding a tragically soft goal in the 81st minute.

The obvious foil for a team that plays quick and direct is to sit a bit deeper, especially in their house, and get numbers in the areas of the field where second balls will fall off Kamara’s head. Remi Garde deserves a bit of credit for setting his team up to play the progressive possession game on the road, but on this occasion it played right into Vancouver’s hands.