COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – With a 3-0 win over Colorado on Saturday night, Los Angeles FC punched its ticket to the playoffs. LAFC is just the fifth MLS franchise ever to earn a playoff berth in an inaugural season. It also became the second Bob Bradley-led expansion team to earn a playoff berth, since the Chicago Fire went to the postseason in 1997.
“Look, we think we have a good team, and if you want to compete at the end of the year the first thing you have to do is make the playoffs,” Bradley, the current LAFC head coach said post-game. “I think we are excited, going in the right direction, and ready to keep pushing this thing along.”
For Colorado, it marked the seventh consecutive loss in as many games – a span in which the Rapids have been outscored 22-1.
“I’ve said the same thing too many times,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson told reporters postgame. “I apologize to the fans. We’re just gutted at the performances and the results.”
The visitors played on the front foot from the opening whistle, controlling possession and outshooting the Rapids. Diego Rossi nearly put LAFC in front in the 9th minute after a deft through ball from Adama Diomande, but his effort in open space in front of Tim Howard went wide of the mark.
Instead, LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman broke the deadlock in the 15th minute, heading down a corner off a deflection to give Los Angeles an early 1-0 lead.
Oct 6, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Los Angeles FC defender Steven Beitashour (3) celebrates the goal of forward Adama Diomande (99) in the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado averted disaster in the 39th minute when referee Armando Villarreal looked at VAR to determine whether unsporting play from Rapids defender Edgar Castillo warranted a red card. In the end, Castillo was issued a yellow for the foul in question.
But Colorado experienced continued adversity nonetheless, with LAFC doubling the lead before halftime. Receiving the ball from Lee Nguyen, Diomande took a shot from the edge of the box and beat Howard this time, extending the lead to 2-0 in the 42nd minute.
“The second goal hurt us,” Hudson added. “All I can say is we kept playing, we kept pushing and we kept trying to force things to happen.”
Diomande earned a brace shortly after the second-half whistle, slotting an easy shot past Howard to make the score 3-0 in the 48th minute.
“It was a fantastic team performance,” Diomande said after the match, “We scored three goals and had a clean sheet on the road so that’s good for us. We clinched a spot for the playoffs so I’m very happy for the club and my teammates.”
Despite the second-half injections of Niki Jackson (52’) and Yannick Boli (53’), Colorado only registered a single shot on target the entire match. As the Rapids continued to push for a goal, LAFC weathered the pressure and held onto the 3-0 win.
“I totally understand the frustration, and I’ve found it difficult as well. We’re letting the fans down, and that’s the hardest part. But as tough as it’s been, I do know exactly what we need to do. We’re working 24/7 to change what we need to change.”
LAFC is now even on points with Sporting Kansas City and trailing Western Conference leader FC Dallas by four points. The expansion side with host Houston next Friday. For Colorado, a trip to Minnesota next weekend awaits as part of a two-game road stretch.