LAFC triumphed 2-0 over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Banc of California Stadium as Chicho Arango and Diego Palacios propelled the Western Conference giants closer to the Supporters’ Shield.
The visitors kicked off without instrumental figures Aaron Long and Luquinhas, after the two entered the league’s health and safety protocols.
Despite the modified starting 11, they held off for the first 45, until Chicho Arango proved too much for the Red Bulls. It only took Arango two minutes after coming off the bench to connect with Carlos Vela and find himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Carlos Coronel.
The player made the run forward, taking a small pause before sending the right-footed shot into the center of the net for the first goal of the match. Arango’s efforts changed the game for LAFC, boosting spirits to inspire the second goal only three minutes later.
It was Diego Palacios that doubled the score for the home side, working with Brian Rodriguez inside the box before beating Tom Edwards to send the left-footed strike to the bottom right corner.
The California side continues to top the West, extending their lead by four points. Despite the loss, the Red Bulls conclude Major League Soccer’s week 16 in third place on the Eastern Conference table with 26 points in 17 games and a record of 7W-5L-5D.
LAFC player ratings
1. LAFC (4-3-3)
GK: Maxime Crépeau - 9/10 - Strong performance, not much else to ask for.
RB: Franco Escobar - 7/10 - Weakest at the back, one clearance.
CB: Jesús Murillo - 8/10 - Kept the backline in check, strong presence when necessary.
CB: Sebastien Ibeagha - 8/10 - Another dependable figure for Cherundolo at the back.
LB: Diego Palacios - 9/10 - First goal in 66 appearances.
CM: Latif Blessing - 6.5/10 - Easily overwhelmed. Eaten alive by defenders when reaching the Red Bulls’ box in the first half, and struggled when finishing. Missed opportunities.
CM: Ilie Sánchez - 7.5/10 - Fine, but not the best performance his given for LAFC. Could use with a bit more creativity and power on the attack.
CM: Jose Cifuentes - 7/10 - Only mediocre, rarely reached the box.
RW: Kwadwo Opoku - 7.5/10 - Decent, made a couple of threatening touches inside the box but lacked power.
LW: Brian Rodriguez - 8/10 - A slow start to the game, a couple of unlucky chances before walking off with an assist in the 70th minute.
F: Carlos Vela - 7.5/10 - Gave the assist in the first goal, but still not as lethal as he is expected to be. If only he had a passion for the game, instead of treating it like a job.
SUB: Chicho Arango (For Blessing, '63) - 10/10 - Only took two minutes for him to score.
SUB: Kellyn Acosta (For Opoku, '63) - /10 - Fine, not his strongest 30 minutes for LAFC.
SUB: Danny Musovski (For Rodriguez, '72) - /10 - Delivered as a substitute.
SUB: Ryan Hollingshead (For Escobar, '72) - 8/10 - Delivered as a substitute. not much to report on.
SUB: Francisco Ginella (For Cifuentes, '85) - N/A
New York Red Bulls player ratings
2. RBNY (3-4-1-2)
GK: Carlos Coronel - 7/10 - A couple of strong saves before crumbling in goal. Could've done more in the second goal.
RB: Lewis Morgan - 7/10 - A slight change in position and suddenly Morgan loses his edge completely.
CB: Tom Edwards - 6/10 - Inconsistent defending. Decent at times, before losing all sense in the second goal.
CB: Sean Nealis - 7.5/10 - Fine first half, but looked defeated in the second.
CB: Dylan Nealis - 7/10 - Another weakened performance. Stronger first 45 before losing steam.
LB: John Tolkin - 7.5/10 - More to be desired from Tolkin, made the runs but flimsy in the final third.
CM: Frankie Amaya - 7/10 - Decent. One shot on target, but did not live up his potential when the Red Bulls really needed it.
CAM: Omir Guadalupe Fernandez Mosso - 6.5/10 - Still not the defining factor Gerhard Struber expects him to be, easily overpowered by opponent's defense.
CM: Cristian Casseres - 8/10 - Probably the team's most active player throughout. Putting out fires throughout while attempting to instigate any type of attack.
F: Tom Barlow - 6/10 - Disappointment. One shot off target when expected to lift the team in the absence of Luquinhas.
F: Patryk Klimala - 6/10 - Absent. Fell into the abyss.
SUB: Dru Yearwood (For Fernandez, '45) - 7/10 - Like the player he replaced, could not do much.
SUB: Cameron Harper (For Amaya, '63) - 6/10 - Was not the creative substitute Gerhard Struber expected him to be.
SUB: Zach Ryan (For Barlow, '76) - 7/10 - Didn't help, didn't hinder.
SUB: Serge Ngoma (For Edwards, '91) - N/A