League-leading LAFC notched their sixth home win of the season and ran their unbeaten streak to five games with a 2-0 win over FC Dallas on Thursday. Yet they still found themselves fuming after the final whistle, thanks to a reckless late challenge on Carlos Vela by Dallas center back Bressan in the match’s dying moments (watch video above).
“Sometimes I feel like Carlos has a target on his back because he’s so good,” said central midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, “and I’m the type of guy that’s going to defend any one of my teammates on the field, but obviously I need to be smart about it and do it in the laws of the game. It’s tough and I think we’re more accustomed to it now, so I’m not surprised when it happens, but I don’t stand for that kind of play. I feel like there’s a bit of malice in it but again, we can’t control it and hopefully the refs and the league do the right thing when they see it.”
Halfway through the game’s six minutes of added time, Bressan – a Brazilian center back signed over the winter who was making his second start for FCD – slid into Vela’s ankles at the top of the Dallas penalty area.
With Vela releasing the ball to teammate Andre Horta for a shot inside the box, referee Allen Chapman waved play on and ultimately elected not to punish Bressan for the lunge, prompting angry remonstrations by LAFC coach Bob Bradley and his team after the final whistle.
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Bob Bradley was very angry with Dallas and the referees after the final whistle, and rightfully so. Several reckless challenges late in the game, particularly the dangerous tackle by Bressan on Vela. Not good that they play each other again on Sunday.#LAFCvFCD #LAFCvDAL #LAFC pic.twitter.com/xIDjhx5Gbj— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) May 17, 2019
“Football is a contact sport,” said Vela postgame. “I don’t say anything if it’s fair play or a 50-50 ball. But this case was not like that. That’s not a way to play. You have to be worried, not just for me but any other soccer player. We’re all in the same business and we have to be smart,” later urging MLS referees to “be more aware of” dangerous plays like it.
The incident adds a heavy dose of spice, and perhaps some malice, ahead of the two teams’ rematch at Toyota Stadium on Sunday (7:30 pm ET | TV and streaming info), a quirk of the schedule that may complicate the task for Chris Penso, the referee assigned to that game.
Bressan's tackle on Vela | USA Today Sports Images
“It’s obviously always difficult when you play a team twice in such a short time span, but I think we’re used to it now because we just did the same thing with Seattle,” said Kaye. “Obviously, at the end of the match it gets a little chippy and guys start to get emotional.
“But that’s part of the game and I think we expect it from certain teams and it just makes Sunday more entertaining now that there’s a little bit of bad blood between the two teams. We don't try to focus too much on that, Sunday’s another opportunity for us to play our football so it’ll be exciting.”