LAFC defeated Seattle Sounders 4-1 in an entertaining game on Monday night in MLS is Back Tournament, putting an end to the Rave Green's hopes of progressing any further and setting up a tie with Orlando City in the last eight.
Diego Rossi scored with a penalty kick on 14 minutes, before Latif Blessing made it two before half time. To their credit, the Sounders pushed them all the way and got back into it on 75 minutes with Will Bruin scoring to halve the arrears. However, as they pushed for an equaliser, LAFC punished them on the break twice. Rossi grabbed his second on 82 minutes before Brian Rodriguez added a minute before the end.
Story of the match
LAFC started well, and nearly went ahead on eight minutes. Diego Palacios crossed into the box and Blessing almost got on the end of it but could only put it wide. However, on 14 minutes, the Black and Gold did go ahead. Diego Rossi was too quick for Xavier Arreaga in the penalty area and the referee Jair Marrufo had no hesitations pointing to the spot. Rossi himself took the spot kick, and despite diving the right way, Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei couldn't keep the effort out.
Rossi could have added to his tally on 21 minutes, but couldn't quite direct his effort from another of Palacios' excellent crosses goalwards. on 38 minutes, however, they did double their lead. Latif Blessing cut inside and curled an effort that deflected massively off of Seattle defender Shane O'Neill to give Frei no chance.
After the half-time break, it could have been 3-0 and game over. Mark Anthony Kaye drove forward with the ball and showed some great footwork to carve out a shooting chance from the edge of the area, but it just went the wrong side of the post. Rossi then spurned a one-on-one chance against Frei, with the Seattle 'keeper blocking well.
This sparked Seattle into life and Raul Ruidiaz went close on 65 minutes. The forward just couldn't make the connection on the ball the pull a goal back for the Rave Greens. on 75 minutes, substitute Joevin Jones' superb cross was met by striker Will Bruin - also on as a substitute - and Seattle were back in it. It was the forward's first goal since returning from over a year out with injury. Ruidiaz almost made it 2-2 soon after, with LAFC keeper Kenneth Veermeer called into action with an instinctive save.
As Seattle pushed forward to try and tie the game up, LAFC punished them cruelly twice in the last 15 minutes. Rossi punished hesitant defending from Arreaga to make it 3-1 with a smart finish from inside the area, before Brian Rodriguez completed the victory a minute from time. Gustav Svensson was caught in possession on the edge of his own area and Rodriguez made no mistake in giving the scoreline a little more gloss for LAFC and dump the Sounders out of the tournament.
Takeaways from the match
It was a case of defensive mistakes costing Seattle that was the biggest takeaway from the game. LAFC played some fantastic football, but the defending must be called into question by Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. Every single goal the Black and Gold scored was avoidable, which will be a huge disappointment to those connected with the Sounders.
LAFC boss Bob Bradley will wonder how Diego Rossi didn't score four goals by himself and win the game by a bigger margin. LAFC are certainly looking like one of the favourites to win MLS is Back Tournament, scoring 15 goals so far overall. They have improved their defense since the start too, and they stand a very good chance of going all the way.
Stand out players
It really is Diego Rossi's tournament. The play-maker has stepped up to the mark in the absence of Carlos Vela and has scored seven goals since MLS has restarted. He scored a brace against the Sounders, and could have added to his total before the game was up.
Will Bruin was the one ray of light for the Sounders. His return after nearly a year out from injury saw him score a goal that nearly spurred Seattle on to drawing level in the game, but ultimately LAFC had too much in the end.
Up next for both
LAFC now take on Orlando City in the quarter finals in a game that is sure to be full of quality. The Sounders return home to regroup, having only won one game all tournament.
Seattle Sounders: Frei; Leerdam, O'Neill, Arreaga, Tolo, Svensson, Roldan, Bwana, Lodeiro, Morris, Ruidiaz.
Substitutes: Muse, Cleveland, Bruin, Jones, Atencio, Delem, Hopeau, Dobbelaere, Dhillon.
LAFC: Verrmeer, Blackmon, Jakovic, Segura, Palacios, Blessing, Atuesta, Kaye, Rodriguez, Wright-Phillips, Rossi.
Substitutes: Sisniega, Harvey, Silva, Najar, Musovski, Ginella, Guido, Cifuentes, Duke, El-Munir, Torres, Perez.