Updated: Jul 2, 2022
This past Wed., June 29, LAFC played visiting FC Dallas at the Banc of California Stadium on what should have been your typical, midweek game. But this humpday hit different. Maybe it was Chicho Arango's four goals in four consecutive games, or Carlos Vela proving his passion with two assists. Maybe it was the ear-to-ear grin of a 37-year-old Italian taking the field to greet an awestruck crowd in a royal blue suit, or a 20-year-old Ghanaian earning Man of the Match when this time last year he was fresh off knee surgery. Maybe it was the return of Eddie Segura playing his first game after an ACL tear. All the moving parts, once frustratingly disparate for LAFC, seemed to click in an uncanny symbiosis that night, and the L.A. stars (or in this case, L.A. traffic lights) began to shift into alignment, all turning green at the same time, all pointing towards go.
The match opened with equal parts possession and intensity from both sides, FC Dallas boasting the likes of USMNT starter Jesus Ferreira and former Black & Gold defender Marco Farfan. Having to manage three games in seven days, LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo made use of his roster depth, giving Danny Musovski the start at left wing. Twenty-three minutes in, Musosvki made good on this vote of confidence, finishing first-time off a nicely slipped ball from midfielder Jose Cifuentes.
Dallas responded in the 38th with a cheeky free kick from Ferreira that caught LAFC keeper Maxime Crepeau off his line. Despite the 1-1 scoreline at half, it felt as though the home team had another goal or two in store, having posted more total shots and shots on target. Sure enough in the 57th minute, Kellyn Acosta and Vela linked up to find Arango making a darting run through the backline, then finishing in the bottom right corner to give the Colombian his 20th MLS regular season goal.
LAFC's young standout Kwadwo Opoku subbed on for Musovski in minute 70 and finished one of the prettiest goals of the night with a solo-effort rocket from distance, earning himself MOTM and sealing a 3-1 victory for the Black & Gold.
LAFC have topped the Western Conference all season, but fans wouldn't be blamed if they were waiting for that other (custom Adidas Samba) shoe to drop. LAFC have had their fair share of highs and hype, only to miss out on the playoffs last season and disappoint in major games in the past. But with the recent signings of Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale, and the vast majority of the first team in good health, there's a lot to look forward to with this squad in this season.
"At any moment of the game I felt we could score a goal," said Cherundolo. "So a controlled, mature, and excellent performance tonight."
LAFC v Vancouver, 7 p.m., Sat., July 2, at Vancouver
FC Dallas v Inter Miami, 6 p.m., Mon, July 4, at Dallas