The spring showers were in full for LAFC and their midweek match at BMO Stadium. The team, hosting L.D. Alajuelense in the second leg of the Round of 16 in Champions League, was looking to avoid the second upset of the round and close out the night with a ticket punched to the next round.
It wasn’t a great start for the home side, with LD Alajuelense stealing a page from their playbook, drawing a penalty within the first ten minutes of the match. It was cooly converted from the spot, and within minutes the visitors had hope, and the early lead.
— LAFC (@LAFC) March 16, 2023
LAFC did an excellent job responding. The squad finished the first half with 15 shots to the visitors four, and kept 61% of the possession. The only negative to the half was conceding and not being able to bury one themselves. They would luckily keep the deficit to one, heading into the halftime break.
Coming out for the second half it was, for better and worse, a bit more of the same to start. LAFC had a handful of opportunities to begin putting this round away, but just couldn’t find the mark. Meanwhile, the visitors just kept finding themselves in the right place at the right time. In the 50th minutes an Alajuelense attack was the definition of ball bouncing their way. Deflecting twice off the defense, then off the goalkeeper, and somehow still finding a player in white, double the lead in the match, and cut the deficit to just one goal on aggregate.
The harsh part about the way these tournaments work, away goals mean more. Which means, all LD had to do was score one more goal, and finish the match 3-3 on aggregate, and they would be the ones to advance on away goals advantage. LAFC still had plenty of time, and opportunity, to get the goal that would punch their ticket into the next round.
It took a while, but in the 82nd minute, it was who it had to be, too give LAFC the very much needed fourth goal on aggregate, and first one of the match. A bounce that finally went the way of the black-and-gold, and Carlos Vela was there to take full advantage with a strike for his first goal of this competition.
The goal was enough for LAFC to advance to the Champions League Quarterfinals. Despite the bumpy journey, the destination was precisely where this team wanted, with them advancing. They may not be perfect anymore in regards to individual matches, but overall, this was a win.
As far as the Champions League goes, LAFC will face off against fellow MLS competitors, Vancouver Whitecaps. In the immediate, the squad get ready to hit the road for their match this Saturday, going up against the always tough Seattle Sounders.
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