Diego Rossi scored in the 11th minute as expansion LAFC won its inaugural Major League Soccer game on the road, defeating the two-time defending Western Conference champion Seattle Sounders 1-0 on a rainy Sunday afternoon before 40,070 fans at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The lone goal came as LAFC moved the ball down the middle of the field. Midfielder Carlos Vela slotted a pass through to Rossi, who eluded onrushing Seattle defender Jordy Delem and blasted it into the top right corner of the net from just inside the 18-yard box, leaving Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei no chance.
Perhaps LAFC’s fast start shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise as it is led by former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, who in 1998 with the Chicago Fire became the only man to guide an expansion team to the MLS Cup title.
The hero for LAFC was goalkeeper Tyler Miller, the former Sounder who was the No. 1 pick in the MLS expansion draft. Miller, who played in just two matches in his two seasons in Seattle as Frei’s backup, made seven saves for his first career shutout.
It’s hard to say which of those saves was best.
He made a diving left-handed save of an 16-yard shot by Seattle’s Nouhou Tolo in the 13th minute. In the 64th, he stopped a header by Cristian Roldan on a rebound off the post. And in the 68th, he swatted a header by Roldan just over the crossbar as the Sounders poured on the pressure in a bid to tie the score.
Seattle’s Will Bruin did put a header past Miller and into the net in the 68th minute, but he was ruled offside.
Miller also got some help when LAFC defender Laurent Ciman, the team’s captain, made a sliding stop of a shot in the 35th minute, deflecting the ball over the crossbar.
The Sounders also had a strong chance when newcomer Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who came on as a halftime substitute, lined a 25-yard free kick just outside of the left post in the 60th minute.
Seattle finished the match with 10 players, as defender Tony Alfaro was sent off with a red card in the 83rd minute.
LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman, a U.S. international, was a late scratch from the lineup because of an injury. He was replaced at center back by Dejan Jakovic.
Forward Clint Dempsey and defender Chad Marshall didn’t play for Seattle, which hosted Santa Tecla in a CONCACAF Champions League match on Thursday night and will play CD Guadalajara in the second round of the competition on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media