(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The reigning 2022 MLS Champion, Los Angeles Football Club’s (LAFC) season home opener at BMO Stadium, took place in a cool 60° weather, with patchy sun due to the cloud covering in the basin. The temperature in Expositon Park, was beginning to rise with pre-match fan fever, excitement, and enthusiasm with the pending start of the 1:30 pm match against the Portland Timbers.
With all that said, the entire fan base was fired up and ready to go with change showing everywhere from the newly named rights of BMO Stadium to a new look roster of the LAFC/Black & Gold for Head Coach, Steve Cherundolo. All of the off-season preparations, negotiations, and signings had been completed and after the cancellation of the L.A. Galaxy match at the Rose Bowl on 2/26, the Club faced the Portland Timbers, (1-0) winner of their Western Conference match in Week #1 over Sporting KC.
There was certainly a lot to see and take in as our City’s new MLS Champion team, took to the pitch in preparation for the contest. Here is a brief list for your review. 1) Falcon’s Flight with Falconer, Ken Miknuk and Mayor Karen Bass, Guest Falconer; 2) a 10:00 minute Highlight video of MLS Championship season; 3) On-field ceremony for players receiving their Championship rings; 4) the unfurling of the triple banner set of the MLS Championship, Supporters Shield, and the Western Conference banner; Grupo 3252 hoisting up a gigantic animated banner showing “El Capitán” Carlos Vela holding the MLS Championship Trophy, with Cristian “Chicho” Arango, and Dénis Bouanga sharing in their “Moment of Glory”; and 5) Celebrities in attendance: Will Ferrell, actor and Aaron Donald, L.A. Rams Super Bowl LVI Champion.
[Photo Gallery Credit]: Frankli Robles, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions, LLC
To see the match highlights, click on this link
[1st HALF]: Match tempo was slow in developing. It was a back and forth affair, with a slow attacking rhythm. Not many threats but several shots were blocked by both goalkeepers. Basically, fans were watching a warm-up or a feeling out of the opponent type of encounter.
At the (24:15) mark, on a crossing pass towards the goal that was perfectly placed by #23/Kellyn Acosta, the ball hit a Timbers player, and Ryan Hollingshead, then bounced just in front of the netting near Jesus Murillo. In the mix and left unguarded, #14/Giorgio Chiellini found the loose sphere rolled it in past the stunned goalie, Bingham, for the first score of the match and the season. It was Chiellini’s first-ever as a “Black & Gold” player. The assist was given to Acosta, [1-0] LAFC.
At minute (33:00), after a foul against the Timbers on #22/Kwadwo Mahala Opoku in the 18 yard box, it resulted in a penalty kick by Carlos Vela, from directly on to the Timbers goalkeeper, who went right, but Vela after taking a few stutter steps, line-drived his left-footed shot into the deep right corner of the net, and was credited with the goal, [LAFC 2-0]. Referee, Joseph Dickerson, added (6) minutes of Stoppage time to close out the period.
[HALF-TIME SCORE]: LAFC 2 Portland 0
[2nd HALF]: At minute (52:00), just before most of the fans could return to their seats, Opoku drove in a goal on a beautiful assist by Vela, making it LAFC (3-0). At the 62nd minute, the Timbers finally got onto the scoreboard with a greatly orchestrated (4-on 3) spread attack shot taken by #20/Evander, moving the score to LAFC 3, Timbers 1.
Around the 60th minute, both teams then started to clear their benches and get more players into the match, since the three goal margin was going to apparently be enough to secure the LAFC victory.
But, in what may have been a small oversight on Coach Cherundolo’s part, the Timbers managed another drive and scored at the 84th minute with an incredible 3′ foot goal by #22/Cristhian Paredes with a short, but miraculous bicycle-kick assist that came from #99/Nathan Fogaça. The score was now (3-2) in favor of the Black & Gold. But time was completely on their side and they easily managed to protect the lead and cruise home for the victory. Lessons are always learned at the start of every new season, and this scenario proved it to be true.
At the end of the regulation time of (90:00) minutes, Stoppage time of (4:00) minutes was added to the game clock. Nonetheless, the Timbers never stopped scrapping or fighting and put on a frantic dash to the finish, but the Black & Gold’s spread zone defense deprived them of a final shot when it was stolen by #12/Diego Palacios and with that move, it would end the match as time ran out.
[MAN OF THE MATCH]: Giorgio Chiellini
[FULL-TIME SCORE]: LAFC 3 Portland 2
[NEXT MATCH]: March 12th, Sunday, 7:30 pm vs. New England Revolution. To watch, go to Apple TV – MLS Season Pass.