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Cristian Arango scores twice, LAFC beats Real Salt Lake

247 News Around The World
247 News Around The World

Entering the last third of the season, the Los Angeles Football Club needs points any way they can find them.

Sunday night at Banc of California Stadium during the last Major League Soccer clash of the weekend LAFC did exactly that, holding onto a 3-2 lead they were gifted to nail down a crucial Western Conference showdown against Real Salt Lake.

Two goals from Cristian Arango plus an own-goal lifted LAFC (8-9-6, 30 points) into dead heat with RSL for the last MLS Cup postseason spot.

RSL (8-8-6, 30 points) continues to sit in the seventh position due to a two goal advantage over LAFC via the goal differential tiebreaker.

“Tonight we have a great reward worthy of our great effort,” Arango said. “We suffer together and celebrate together.”

The fastest goal in LAFC history — the eighth quickest in MLS competition — delivered the Black & Gold an advantage 20 seconds after the opening whistle.

The sequence started near midfield when LAFC’s Colombian captain Eduard Atuesta picked up the ball and dribbled into RSL territory.

Atuesta picked out midfielder Bryce Duke running to his right, which opened a window to feed Danny Musovski in the box. Duke’s delivery, his second assist in as many matches, was redirected and fell to Arango, whose clean touch allowed him to beat RSL goalkeeper David Ochao.

The two sides tussled over the opening half hour until RSL’s Damir Kreilach again made an impact on the series.

The midfielder’s curling one-timer from outside the box leveled the score at one apiece and set in motion a frantic give and take — and give — 90 minutes.

“Wild game,” Bradley said. “Sometimes as you get into the latter part of the season and you’re playing these six point games they can become fast and furious. There’s mistakes on both sides.”

After Kreilach’s equalizer, LAFC wasted no time regaining the lead.

Arango, 26, secured his brace two minutes later when Atuesta lofted a chipped pass at his countryman’s head.

The redirected pass produced Arango’s fourth goal in LAFC’s last three contests.

“He wanted to be here and from the beginning you could tell he’s got a strong character and a great mentality,” Bradley said regarding the Colombian forward. “That part rubs off in a good way on everybody.

“He’s a guy you can count on. He plays for the team. He puts himself in really good positions in the box. He showed he can play an important role for us.”

RSL leveled the contest in the 48th minute when a rare miscue by Duke created a breakaway that gave forward Anderson Julio an opportunity to pick out the near post and beat Tomas Romero.

Then, as the hour mark approached, RSL gave away the game winner and a season sweep for LAFC.

After breaking up an attack in front of The 3252 supporters in the north end of the stadium, RSL defender Toni Datkovic did not hear Ochao try to wave him off as the ball trundled into the box.

Instead Datkovic gently nudged the ball back toward his goal, and Ochao could not reroute himself to make a save.

“There’s going to be some sort of crazy wild feeling aspect to games, especially for teams that are trying to get into the playoffs,” defender Sebastien Ibeagha said following his second consecutive start on the LAFC backline. “For us, we have quality, it’s about being composed and calm and letting our football shine.

“It’s a stepping stone. We’re trying to push this streak and go into the playoffs.”

After failing to score more than two times in any of its first 20 matches, LAFC has tallied three or more goals in its last three.

The club’s 10 goals during that stretch topped its total over seven contests between July 21 to Aug. 21, before a 3-3 tie to Galaxy preceded an end to the club’s historically bad eight-match winless streak that had dropped them as low as 11th in the conference standings.

Following with a pair of wins, LAFC, now in eighth position, heads on the road for matches in Austin, Portland and San Jose.

Away from home, LAFC is 2-7-1.

Only four of LAFC’s 11 remaining games take place at Banc of California Stadium, where it has accumulated 23 of its 30 points.

“We’re on an upward bound path where all we can do is continue to gain,” Arango said. “With all these goals we hope to accumulate more.”

This post first appeared on ocregister.com

The post Cristian Arango scores twice, LAFC beats Real Salt Lake appeared first on 247 News Around The World.

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