LAFC’s Bob Bradley laments falling to NYCFC, calling it ‘a game we should not lose’
Santiago Mier and Saila Reyes are new LAFC season ticket holders who patiently waited to enter Banc of California Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
There have been four LAFC home games this season, but Mier and Reyes only attended one before catching the club’s 2-1 loss to New York City FC.
“The anticipation has been great in terms of the build-up, but now that we’re here, we are very excited to get with the program and get with the season and the whole experience,” Mier said before kickoff.
The supporters roared all match and should soon gain approval to pack the entire stadium, but LAFC couldn’t hold off a late NYCFC surge despite maintaining a possession advantage from start to finish.
“It’s a game that we should not lose,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said.
In the 56th minute, Corey Baird scored off a pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye to give LAFC a 1-0 lead.
Before the strike, the hosts took six shots and put just two on target.
“I don’t think there is one specific answer for, ‘What is the one thing we need to do?’ I just think there’s times where our mentality slips a little bit, our focus slips a little bit,” Baird said. “I would say today, I think, we were the better team for so much of that game.”
NYCFC didn’t wilt under pressure. Jesús Medina scored a left-footed shot from the left side of the box to tie the match at one goal apiece in the 70th minute.
A combination of a foul and use of offensive language earned Nicolás Acevedo a red card in the 86th minute, but LAFC failed to exploit the advantage.
In the 90th minute, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi delivered the decisive blow for NYCFC, scoring off a corner. Alexander Callens earned the assist.
NYCFC (3-2-2, 11 points) held off LAFC’s (2-3-2, 8 points) push for an equalizer.
While LAFC continues to work to find its footing and live up to preseason championship expectations, the club’s supporters are upbeat about the future.
The energy and excitement was palpable Saturday and fans are expected to gain approval to pack the venue for the next home match. It differs dramatically from matches played last season without any fans in the stadium.
Carlos Vela, the heart of LAFC’s attack, recently returned from injury and has stirred optimism among fans that LAFC will pile up more wins after the looming FIFA break that will include Nations League matches and other fixtures.
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“You can see the difference just off of one game of him being back. The team morale is very different, and everything is very different in terms of how the ambiance feels; it feels like LAFC is back,” Mier said.
Vela played in his first full 90-minute match Saturday since he returned from his injury and concedes he’s not back to full strength yet, but he hopes to use the the upcoming three-week break to revitalize himself and his team.
“I hope that when we’re back to the games you will see my best level,” Vela said. “You will see the Carlos that everybody knows.”