LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Diego Rossi scored on a penalty kick early in the first half and provided the clinching goal in the 82nd minute, and Los Angeles FC thumped the reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders 4-1 early Tuesday morning.
LAFC advanced to the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back tournament by getting a measure of revenge for last year’s Western Conference final when Seattle pulled off a 3-1 upset in Los Angeles on its way to winning the league title.
“We created a lot of chances, which is something that we feel very good about, and when we needed them to finish the game out we kept going,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said.
Even without reigning league MVP Carlos Vela, LAFC pressured and flustered the Sounders early and never let up. LAFC outshot Seattle 25-11. At times, the Sounders couldn’t play the ball out of their own defensive end due to the pressure of LAFC.
Except for a brief stint of the second half when Seattle threatened, it was a dominant performance by LAFC that set up a matchup with Orlando City in the quarterfinals on Friday.
“It was a measuring stick for us. And we failed tonight,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.
Rossi was the leader of LAFC’s buzzing attack. He scored twice and probably should have scored two or three more times. Rossi drew Xavier Arreaga’s foul in the penalty area and beat Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the 14th minute for the early advantage.
Latif Blessing doubled the lead in the 39th minute when his shot toward the far post was deflected by Seattle defender Shane O’Neill and into the net. Frei appeared to be in position to make the save, but O’Neill shifted his shoulder and deflected the attempt.
Rossi provide the insurance goal after Seattle had cut the deficit to 2-1. He took advantage of another defensive mistake by Arreaga and regained the two-goal advantage. Rossi now has seven goals in the tournament. Brian Rodriguez added another goal in the 89th minute.
“Diego has been a really good player every year, but he’s grown,” Bradley said. “He’s improved, he’s worked really hard on his finishing, his ability to take balls on the move, to make runs through the defense. He’s relentless.”
Seattle had four extra days of rest, but looked lethargic for most of the match. It took 65 minutes before the Sounders got a shot on LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
But the Sounders managed to create a nervous final 20 minutes for LAFC. Substitute Will Bruin scored in the 75th minute for Seattle to cut the deficit to 2-1 in his first appearance in more than a year after a major knee injury.
Raul Ruidiaz nearly pulled Seattle even moments later, but Vermeer made an excellent reaction save.
“We gave them some goals. You’re never going to beat a team like LAFC — or really any team in MLS — when you play like that,” Schmetzer said.
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