Updated: Oct 2
In a league renowned for its nail-biting competition, the Western Conference undoubtedly takes the prize for nerve-racking encounters. The recent match between LAFC and Real Salt Lake perfectly captured the high stakes at play.
LAFC entered the game fully aware of its significance, understanding that a draw would put them in second place alongside the Seattle Sounders, while Real Salt Lake would be level with the Houston Dynamo in the fourth spot. However, Real Salt Lake had their sights set on a win, which would catapult them into second place.
If the tension wasn't already palpable enough, consider the fact that a mere 5-point difference separated the second-place position from the ninth-place position. Every pass, every tackle, and every goal mattered in the pursuit of critical points.
The first half seemed to be a cautious affair, with LAFC only managing three shots on goal. Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, seemed content with their solid defensive formation, not allowing any shots on goal and only attempting one shot themselves.
However, the game took an unexpected turn when LAFC's defensive linchpin, Kellyn Acosta, suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Polish midfielder, Mateusz Bogusz, in the 33rd minute.
The second half began with a heart-stopping moment in the 46th minute. The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Carlos Andres Gomez unleashed a fearless shot, aiming for the back of the net. But fate had a different plan in mind. As Gomez's shot flew menacingly towards the goal, a sudden deflection altered its path, sending the ball soaring towards the upper 90. Goalkeeper Crepeau, displaying his exceptional reflexes, reacted instantly. With a display of incredible athleticism, he leaped and stretched his body to its limits, making an extraordinary save that seemed almost impossible.
In the 72nd minute the deadlock was finally broken by Real Salt Lake, thanks to an incredible display of teamwork and skill. Starting with an impressive give and go pass from the right side of the field, the ball was perfectly set up for a long cross into the Goalkeeper's area. In a fitting turn of events, it was former LAFC player Chicho Arango who sealed the deal with an impeccable header. Surprisingly, despite Chicho playing for the opposing team, a mutual respect between Chicho and the crowd was palpable. Instead of the usual "boos" reserved for opposing players, the fans recognized and appreciated his dedication to his former club. What truly set Chicho apart was his humble demeanor. In a rare display of sportsmanship, he refrained from celebrating his goal, choosing instead to show his love and respect for his former team.
With LAFC outshooting Real Salt Lake by 19 shots to Real Salt Lake’s 7, they just couldn’t seem to execute on their opportunities which left the Black and Goal ending the match being tied fourth in the standings while Real Salt Lake took a drastic move up to second in the conference. Attendance: 22,221 Goal: 72' Chicho Arango - Goal