LOS ANGELES -- It was deja vu. Diego Rossi scooted into space facing the opponents goal. He looked up to see the newly substituted Adama Diomande sneaking into the six-yard box. The Uruguayan DP whipped the cross toward Dio’s head.
The ball didn’t wind up in the back of Stefan Frei’s net. Like so many of LAFC’s other offensive moves in Tuesday night’s 3-1 Western Conference Semifinal loss to Seattle, there was just something off about the Black & Gold.
“In terms of our attacking play, it’s pretty simple,” said Bob Bradley after the match. “I don’t think that tonight we were good enough.”
It sure didn’t seem like that was the way the night would turn out when Eduard Atuesta curled in a free kick from 30 yards to open the scoring in the 17th minute. But just five minutes later Raul Ruidiaz — playing in his first match against the 2019 Supporters' Shield winners — answered, with his teammate Nico Lodeiro adding a second four minutes later.
Latif Blessing went off injured just before half but the introductions of Mark-Anthony Kaye and Diomande — and the allure of hosting an MLS Cup at home — were not enough to lift the home side in time who were visibly frustrated by the Sounders physical approach, despite anticipating it.
“It wasn’t a surprise to us at all, we knew coming into the game what it was going to be like and we just didn’t match it throughout the game,” said Kaye afterward.
“When you play the type of football that we have, you have a target on your back and the physicality part of it is something teams think they can bring to screw everything up.”
Ruidiaz netted his second and despite having equaled the all-time goals record, LAFC couldn’t create enough chances to get back into the game.
“I think we had four shots on goal,” said Bradley. “They had numbers back, they clogged the middle, they defended in a compact and strong way and then, if you don’t move the ball quick enough, when you get up there it’s not easy to get shots.”
In the end, it was a disappointing end to a stellar 2019 campaign that saw the second-year side set or equal a number of MLS records but Bradley wasn’t about to let his team forget who the blame lies with for falling short.
“As disappointed as we all are, we have not been a team once that came in and said, ‘Well look what they did.’ No. It’s our responsibility to try to take control of the game, to make the right decisions to make the right plays, when balls turn-over get those kind of reactions where we can control moments and continue to attack. We love trying to play that way and tonight we tried over and over, but still, when all is said is done, we weren’t good enough.”