Jun 30, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Latif Blessing (7) and Philadelphia Union defender Keegan Rosenberry (12) battle for the ball in the first half of the game at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
A hat trick from Adama Diomandé and a last-minute strike from Latif Blessing, who also assisted two of Diomandé’s goals, helped the Los Angeles Football Club defeat the Philadelphia Union 4-1 Saturday night at Banc of California Stadium.
The match also served as LAFC’s first annual Pride Night, celebrating and honoring the LGBTQ community with Pride-themed corner flags, signage and tifo from supporters.
The Philadelphia Union came into the match after a big week. Last Saturday, they defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0, with two goals from Borek Dockal and penalty kick goals from Ilsinho and Fabrice-Jean Picault. Lucky for LAFC fans, Dockal, who was named MLS Player of the Week from his performance against Vancouver, did not travel to Los Angeles due to the birth of his second child earlier in the week.
LAFC went into the match without two of its biggest contributors. Leading scorer Carlos Vela is still away on international duty with Mexico for the World Cup, and assists leaders Diego Rossi is out with a hamstring strain. So, Blessing, Diomandé and Lee Nguyen started up top for Los Angeles.
Diomandé opened the scoring in the 25th minute off a Blessing assist. In the minutes before the goal, Philadelphia had a few dangerous opportunities that could have changed the course of the game had LAFC not prevailed.
The Union continued to try to make their mark on the match, but Diomandé responded once again. In the 43rd minute, he put the ball away after a few clean passes from teammates.
Fafà Picault finally gave Philadelphia a glimmer of hope just before the half to put the score at 2-1.
The second half slanted even more in favor of LAFC. Diomandé scored his third goal of the match in the 55th minute to put his side ahead 3-1. Blessing then sealed victory for Los Angeles with a stoppage-time goal.
LAFC remain undefeated at home during their inaugural season. This was Diomandé’s fifth game for the expansion side, and he’s already tied with Carlos Vela for a team-leading seven goals.
Saturday’s match against Philadelphia was the first of three games within an eight-day span for LAFC: the team travels to Houston on Tuesday and then returns home Saturday to host Orlando City FC.