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LAFC and Philadelphia Set the Pace with Thrilling 3-3 Battle

LAFC starting XI... photo by Jose Hernandez

If Sunday night's match-up between LAFC and Philadelphia Union is any indication of the rest of the season, MLS fans are in for a lit season. We're only two games in, but every match with the reigning Supporters Shield holders—who swept the league since their inception two seasons ago—has been a dog fight for not just points but league-wide respect and self-confidence.

Diego Rossi

That spirit was on clear display March 8 as LAFC hosted Philadelphia at the Banc of California Stadium. Philadelphia, a naturally high pressing and attacking team, came out fast and furious, notching the first goal with a powerful curler from Philadelphia forward Sergio Santos. LAFC equalized before half, thanks to a well-earned foul from Diego Rossi, finished off by who else but LAFC captain Carlos Vela, earning his 50th MLS career goal.

Second half saw both sides fighting tooth and nail in a back-and-forth battle that could have easily teetered either way, despite LAFC out-possessing the visitors 62% to 38%. Twice Philadelphia scored and twice LAFC equalized within two minutes. Philadelphia center back Jakob Glesnes, who blasted in a rocket from outside the box, later hit the woodwork in a nail-biting 1v1 with LAFC keeper Kenneth Vermeer. LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, who gave up the aforementioned goal immediately made up for it by assisting Rossi to make it 2-2.

At 69 minutes, the U's Brenden Aaronson put the East Coast ahead 3-2, driving a shot past a frantic LAFC backline. At 71 minutes, LAFC defender Eddie Segura buried one past Philadelphia goalie Andre Blake, making it an even 3-3. By the time the announcer declared extra time, the crowd cheered in delight, ready for more.

Philadelphia's performance is no doubt a plus for them, having just lost 2-0 on the road to FC Dallas, and given LAFC's strong home record a tie is a definite positive for the visitors. For LAFC, it's an important balancing act this week, as they try out various combinations in their lineup and get ready to go into the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals against Cruz Azul in four days.

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