Adama Diomande overcomes late preseason start to provide game-winner

LOS ANGELES -- When stoppage time minutes are flashed on the board at Banc of California Stadium at home openers, the Black & Gold faithful know to stay put.

Last year, it was Laurent Ciman, willing in a free kick at the 93rd minute to open LAFC's new home to delirious applause. For 2019’s encore Sunday night, it was Adama Diomande as he led his team to a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.

But when Jordan Harvey walked into the press conference after the victory and sat down next to the game-winner, he had other thoughts.

“You took my goal, man,” said the LAFC defender, who celebrated his 300th career MLS match on Sunday. “I was going to bang it with my right foot.”

Diomande busted up laughing.

“I just wanted that goal, bro,” Diomande said, without a hint of irony.

On Friday, head coach Bob Bradley revealed that Diomande had undergone hernia surgery during the offseason, necessitating a slow preseason where he received limited minutes.

“[Diomande] came in in the early weeks and we needed to go a little bit slower but he’s really put it in another gear in the last week to ten days,” Bradley told reporters ahead of the season opener.

As such, Dio started on the bench to open the season against Sporting, the team who snatched the Western Conference crown from LAFC on Decision Day presented by AT&T in 2018.

Christian Ramirez, on the back of a strong preseason that included a goal with the US men's national team, got the nod to lead the line.

“I knew I was not going to start the game for three weeks now,” Diomande said after the game. “I knew that and I’m a professional guy. It’s good for competition. I don’t want to be the lone striker on the team. I’m happy to have a competition with Christian [Ramirez] and of course we have other strikers too that can play the same position.”

Bradley gave some credit to LAFC’s supporters, who had unveiled a massive grim reaper tifo before Sunday’s match against the only team that beat LAFC twice in their expansion season.

“Once you have them every game right there, loud, with you, you've got to play the kind of football they appreciate," Bradley said. "That’s what happens with good teams, good clubs, so we’re just trying to make sure that somewhere in our DNA as we’re going forward that that is what's happening.”