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Five things from LAFC’s 4-2 Toronto win

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles FC beat Toronto FC 4-2 during the weekend. Here are five things we learned from the match:

1. Vela steps up to shoulder the captain’s role

In the team’s first outing since the departure of former captain Laurent Ciman, Carlos Vela strapped on the captain’s armband and proved his role as the quiet leader for the young team. In the past, Vela’s leadership on the ball was reflected regularly on the stat sheet, where he leads the team in both goals and assists despite a month-long absence for the World Cup.

But Vela’s leadership expanded in Saturday’s match as he fully took on the role as the team’s captain and leader during the final push of the regular season. He was involved in all four of the goals scored in the win, including the dramatic brace in the final minutes of stoppage time.

2. Lee Nguyen continues to bolster offense

The addition of Nguyen early in the season provided ample excitement for LAFC fans eager to see their team score high numbers on a consistent basis. Now, deep into his first career season with the team, Nguyen has proven his ability to produce for the team. He tallied his third goal of the season on Saturday in the 49th minute to stretch the lead to 3-0.

3. Diego Rossi and Vela tandem thrives

This has been a dangerous duo for LAFC since the team’s very first game together, but in recent weeks, the two offensive leaders have truly begun to click. The pair has put up five goals and three assists over the past four matches, combining as one of the most explosive attacking pairs in the league.

If Rossi and Vela can continue to cement this rhythm into the postseason, the LAFC offense will provide a well-spread challenge for opposing defenses.

4. Cautious approach pays off — barely

LAFC fended off a two-goal attempt at a comeback in the second half by Jozy Altidore, but it was the first half that proved more troublesome for the team in Saturday’s match. Well known throughout the league for its explosive starts, the squad approached the game with a surprising lack of temerity. Vela notched a goal midway through the first half, but the team struggled to set a pace and control any third of the field, leaving room for Toronto to probe on the attack.

Similarly slow starts have typically led to disaster for LAFC, and Bob Bradley’s squad will do well to light a fire earlier in future match ups.

5. LAFC keeps sights set on MLS Cup finish

With another win under its belt, LAFC climbed to the second spot in the Western Conference, jockeying back up above Sporting KC by a margin of one with 46 points.

In only its first season, the team is only three points off of winning the whole conference, continuing to trail FC Dallas. Only seven games remain for the conference standings to shake out, and as the team continues to string together wins, LAFC will look to finish at the top.

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