Through the first hour of last week's game at the LA Galaxy, everything had been going swimmingly for expansion LAFC, which opened with a pair of wins (1-0 at Seattle and 5-1 at Real Salt Lake) and
was leading the Galaxy, 3-0.
Since then? LAFC gave up four goals to the Galaxy and lost, 4-3, on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal in stoppage time. On Saturday, LAFC fell to Atlanta United, 5-0.
Late blowout. The game was a lot closer than the final margin indicated as the Five Stripes' Miguel Almiron converted two late penalty kicks and Jamaican Romario Williams scored his first MLS goal in four years as a pro in the seventh minute of stoppage time after LAFC had been reduced to 10 players on a red card to rookie Joao Moutinho that led to Almiron's second PK.
There were seven minutes of stoppage time in part because referee Ted Unkel reviewed a no-call on Walker Zimmerman and used VAR to award the first penalty kick Almiron converted in the 88th minute.
Rare red reversal. It was the second VAR decision of the game that went against LAFC. In the first minute, Unkel reversed his decision to red card Atlanta United midfielder Chris McCann and give the Irishman only a yellow card for a foul after sliding in on Benny Feilhaber. It was the first time in MLS history a red card was changed to yellow on review.
“It’s a terrible way to start the game," said LAFC coach Bob Bradley. "Psychologically for all the players, the whole game is already out of whack. Starting a game in that way. The referees could not do a worse job of getting a game going and making sure everybody on the field feels like a real game is going to take place. It’s a bad way to start a game."
From his vantage point, Bradley said McCann had one foot going in with his studs exposed.
“Seems to me," he said, "the way it has been explained over and over is that if you go in and you show your studs then, whether not you get the player or not, that it is a red card. That is how it has always been explained and, like I said, I’m pretty sure that one foot went in that way.”
Not good enough in attack. After Julian Gressel's opening goal in the 17th minute, LAFC went on the attack in search of an equalizer and finished with a huge edge in possession -- 59 percent to 41 percent -- and a 16-11 edge in shots, but it only managed to put one shot on target.
"I thought our initial response was good," Bradley. "I thought we did a good job of pressing and winning the ball back. I don’t think on the day we were good enough in the attacking part of the field."
Unfortunately, LAFC collapsed after Gressel set up Josef Martinez for the second goal in the 67th minute.
"I thought we lost our way," said Bradley. "That includes losing balls you shouldn’t lose, and that included poor reactions by guys around the ball when you lose it. So, you don’t pin that on the defense, per se. The football after it was 2-0 was just no-good and that’s just not what we are going to be about.”