LAFC vowed "payback" in their first match against Real Salt Lake since being knocked out of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, but that promise was left for late, as a stoppage-time goal from Walker Zimmerman gave the home side the 2-1 win at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams had absences due to international duty and RSL were missing two players on suspension, but despite the makeshift lineup Mike Petke's squad matched up well against Bob Bradley's fearsome attack and the teams showed plenty of feisty play throughout.
The scoring started in the 35th minute, as Damir Kreilach scored a penalty for RSL, after Latif Blessing clattered into Bofo Saucedo in the 18-yard-box. But LAFC had an answer five minutes later, as Diego Rossi hit a one-timer off a deflected cross to even up the match.
Saucedo scored a go-ahead goal just after the halftime break, but the goal was chalked off on an offside call. From there, LAFC ratcheted up the pressure, but RSL were stout in defense. They went down a man for the second consecutive game when substitute Justin Portillo, in his MLS debut, was given a straight red card for a clothesline tackle on Rossi in the 84th minute.
It seemed destined to finish a draw with RSL holding firm, but Zimmerman stepped up and slotted a cool curler from outside the box to win the game in the 92nd minute.
- 35' – RSL – Damir Kreilach (PK) | WATCH
- 40' – LAFC – Diego Rossi | WATCH
- 92' – LAFC – Walker Zimmerman | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: It wasn't a playoff game, and it wasn't the 5-1 margin Blessing promised during the week, but LAFC gritting out another late finish to stay unbeaten will leave the Black & Gold pretty happy. For RSL, the late loss is a bitter pill after playing LAFC evenly throughout.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: No surprise, the winning goal was not only consequential but it was a wicked finish, too.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: LAFC were keen to re-sign Zimmerman in the offseason to be the centerpiece of their defense, and the center back showed his scoring chops with a goal that teammate Carlos Vela would be proud of, to cap off another strong shift this season.
- LAFC: Saturday, March 30 at San Jose Earthquakes (3:30 pm ET | Univision in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada)
- RSL: Saturday, March 30 vs. FC Dallas (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; DAZN in Canada)