LAFC is off for the next three weeks after producing one of its most
impressive wins of its unprecedented start to the 2019 season.
The second-year MLS team came into Portland's Providence Park, where the Timbers had won 15 straight home openers and welcomed a sellout crowd of 25,218 fans for their first home game of the season after $85 million in renovations to add 4,000 seats were finished, and quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 34 minutes on goals by Carlos Vela (pouncing on a giveaway from Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella) and Diego Rossi.
The Timbers got back in the game with a goal by Cristhian Paredes to start the second half, but Latif Blessing soon had LAFC back ahead by two goals. Late in the game, Argentine Brian Fernandez scored on a bicycle kick for his fourth goal in three games since arriving from Liga MX's Necaxa, but LAFC held on for a 3-2 win after 12 minutes of stoppage time.
LAFC is now 11-1-4 after 16 games and has already accumulated a nine-point lead in the Supporters' Shield race over the LA Galaxy, which has a game in hand and hosts New England on Sunday night.
LAFC's start is unprecedented in MLS history:
-- It's unbeaten at home with the best record in the league (7-0-1);
-- It also has best record on the road (4-1-3);
-- It has MLS's best attack (39 goals) and second best defense (13 goals allowed);
-- Its goal difference -- plus-26 -- is better than the league's second-best attack (three teams with 25 goals).
-- Vela has 16 goals in 16 games, putting him on course to break Josef Martinez's single-season scoring record set in 2018 (31 goals).
The match produced 27 fouls and six yellow cards and featured a shoving match between Fernandez and LAFC's Adama Diomande late in stoppage time. Vela, who set up Rossi's goal to give him 10 assists in addition to 16 goals, was fouled eight times.
"We're not naive," said LAFC coach Bob Bradley. "We understand teams are going to have a hard way to play against us, try to make it hard. When's the last time you saw [Lionel] Messi get mauled the way Carlos got mauled tonight?"