MLS

MLS Review: LAFC bounce back from derby defeat in seven-goal thriller

By Sports Desk July 26, 2019

Supporters' Shield leaders Los Angeles FC put their derby disappointment aside to overcome Atlanta United 4-3 in a thrilling MLS clash on Friday.

LAFC succumbed to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic hat-trick in last week's loss to city rivals LA Galaxy, however, Bob Bradley's high-flying side bounced back.

Four unanswered goals from Adama Diomande, Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela and Eduard Atuesta saw LAFC come from behind to beat reigning MLS champions Atlanta in Los Angeles.

Mo Adams gave Atlanta a second-minute lead before Diomande, Rossi, Vela and Atuesta scored in a 12-minute period prior to the interval.

Josef Martinez reduced the deficit in the second minute of first-half stoppage time and Eddie Segura's 51st-minute own goal gave Atlanta some hope away from home.

However, LAFC held on for their fourth victory in five league games to move 12 points clear atop the Western Conference and 10 clear in the Supporters' Shield race.

Meanwhile, New York City claimed back-to-back wins by defeating 10-man Sporting Kansas City 3-1.

Alex Ring scored and had two assists to lead New York to third in the Eastern Conference.

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his red-hot form after leading LA Galaxy to victory as stuttering Los Angeles FC drew again, while Atlanta United star Josef Martinez was carried off on a stretcher.

    Ibrahimovic scored his 27th goal of the season to lead the Galaxy to a 2-1 win over visiting Montreal Impact on Saturday.

    Former Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic broke the deadlock with a close-range finish in the 31st minute at Dignity Health Sports Park – taking the 37-year-old's tally to 11 goals in his past seven matches.

    Montreal's Lassi Lappalainen equalised three minutes into the second half, however, Uriel Antuna bundled the ball home five minutes later to restore the Galaxy's lead.

    Back-to-back wins saw the Galaxy move up to third in the Western Conference, while the Impact are four points adrift of the play-off places in the Eastern Conference.

    LAFC's winless streak extended to five games following their last-gasp 1-1 draw at home to Toronto.

    Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC looked to have succumbed to Tsubasa Endoh's 19th-minute goal as Toronto – fourth in the east – still clinched a post-season berth.

    But MLS top goalscorer Carlos Vela converted a 95th-minute penalty for his 29th goal of the campaign to avoid defeat for LAFC.

    LAFC are eight points clear in the race for the Supporters' Shield, though Eastern Conference leaders New York City can reduce that lead to five with victory on Sunday.

    Martinez's record 15-match scoring streak came to an end after suffering a knee injury in Atlanta's 3-1 victory against nine-man San Jose Earthquakes.

    The Venezuela international was forced to be substituted in the 79th minute after colliding with a team-mate at home to the Earthquakes.

    Defending champions Atlanta stayed within three points of New York City thanks to stoppage-time goals from Emerson Hyndman and Gonzalo Martinez.

    Elsewhere, Colorado Rapids edged Sporting Kansas City 3-2, Houston Dynamo defeated Orlando City 2-1, Vancouver Whitecaps salved a 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake played out a goalless draw at New England Revolution, while FC Cincinnati and Chicago Fire drew by the same scoreline.

  • De Boer fears 'serious' injury after Atlanta's Martinez is carried off on stretcher De Boer fears 'serious' injury after Atlanta's Martinez is carried off on stretcher

    Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer fears star forward Josef Martinez suffered a "serious" injury in the defending MLS champions' win over San Jose Earthquakes.

    Martinez was carried off on the stretcher after hurting his knee as Atlanta defeated the Earthquakes 3-1 on Saturday – ending his MLS record 15-match scoring streak.

    The Venezuela international and reigning MLS MVP landed awkwardly after colliding with a team-mate before he was substituted in the 79th minute at Mercedes-Benz Field.

    It sent shockwaves around Atlanta, where Martinez has scored 26 goals to help the titleholders up to third in the Eastern Conference in their pursuit of back-to-back MLS championships.

    Asked about Martinez post-match, De Boer told reporters: "I'm afraid that he has something serious, but we have to wait. They're evaluating him now."

    "Probably tomorrow we can have a better diagnosis and then we have to make our plan," the former Inter and Crystal Palace boss said. "Hopefully it's not so bad. But I can't say if it's good or bad. I don't know.

    "We know Josef a little bit -- he's a tough guy. He will not suddenly step off the field. He will have something, that's for sure. But we have to wait. It's too early to predict. 

    "But I think it's not a good sign that he goes off ... but it's like that. We have to deal with it. Again, we have to wait."

    Goals from Justin Meram, Emerson Hyndman and Gonzalo Martinez saw Atlanta clinch a home play-off match.

  • Valverde accepts responsibility for Barcelona's worst start in 25 years Valverde accepts responsibility for Barcelona's worst start in 25 years

    Ernesto Valverde admits he is to blame for Barcelona's poor form after Saturday's 2-0 loss at Granada confirmed their worst LaLiga start in 25 years.

    Barca went down to goals from Ramon Azeez and Alvaro Vadillo as the promoted side moved top of the table, with Valverde's men seventh after five games.

    Seven points is the fewest they have collected at this stage of the season since a difficult 1994-95 campaign under legendary coach Johan Cruyff.

    Valverde's team have failed to win any of their past seven away games in all competitions, a run that dates back to last season, with pressure growing on the coach.

    Although Valverde has led Barca to the title in each of his two full seasons in charge, they lost last term's Copa del Rey final to Valencia after crashing out of the Champions League in humiliating fashion against Liverpool.

    Questions about Valverde's future have been a constant background presence throughout his time at the club, and the coach accepts the blame for poor results must lie at his door.

    "In the end the actors are the players and the coach is responsible," he told a post-match news conference.

    "I feel responsible for what has happened. You can lose but when you lose you have to deserve to win - and today we have not deserved it.

    "Away from home we are not reaping good results. When it happens in four games it is already a symptom that we are not too well.

    "Today we have not been well. Away from home we are not playing good games. We are dominating but we do not translate it into goal situations. It is also true that the opponent is scoring the first goal."

    Valverde gave credit to Granada, who have won three LaLiga games in a row without conceding a goal.

    "Granada deserve a lot of credit and we have to recognise it," the coach added. "They have been intense, strong, they have troubled us a lot.

    "The first goal has put the game in their hands and they hit us when they hurt us the most. They have made their game and that we have not played well is to their credit."

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