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U in Review — Los Angeles Football Club vs. Philadelphia Union

Adama Diomandé scored three goals, as Los Angeles Football Club defeated the visiting Philadelphia Union 4-1 in the clubs’ first-ever meeting in Major League Soccer.

Borek Dockal, the previous MLS Player of the Week, has been the name on Union fans’ lips as of late.

Dockal, who arrived at the club on loan from Chinese club Henan Jianye in February, has been in fine form as of late, leading the Union in both the goals (5) and assists (6) categories.

But on Saturday night, inside the Banc of California Stadium in the heart of Los Angeles, Dockal’s name was not called on, with the Czech international not making the trip due to the birth of his daughter.

Instead, it was another recent signing, Adama Diomandé, who stole the show and played the lead role in LAFC’s victory over the Union in the clubs’ first-ever meeting in Major League Soccer.

Indeed, it was Los Angeles that took an early lead, courtesy of Diomandé who struck for the home side in the 25th minute.

Diomandé, who LAFC acquired from English Championship side Hull City in May, took advantage of an interception of Auston Trusty dribbling in no-man’s land, sized up Trusty’s defensive partner, Mark McKenzie, and fired a low shot past Andre Blake into the bottom corner.

It was an eye-catching goal by the Norwegian, whose forward touch toward McKenzie and Blake sent the former backpedaling. McKenzie looked out of sorts when trying to stand up Diomandé, and was never in a position to prevent a shot from being let off.

Los Angeles and Diomandé weren’t finished, however, with the former Norwegian National Team forward finding the back of the net again in the 43rd minute, on the brink of half time.

“Finding” may not be the appropriate word, however, as Diomandé cooly tapped in the centering pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Not one, not two, not three, but four Union defenders, including Blake who later scrambled to make a save, were clearly too fixated on Kaye who waltzed into the box and picked out an open Diomandé for the assist.

In fairness, Diomandé did well to create space in the Union’s box, separating himself from the white shirts around him to score his second goal of the match, the Norwegian’s fifth for Los Angeles in his last six appearances.

Ultimately it was Union winger Fafa Picault who went on to score the last goal in the first half, pulling a goal back for the Union in the 45th minute.

Picault slammed home a rebound following a diving save by LAFC keeper Tyler Miller that just tucked under the bar. But it would not be enough, as the home side added two unanswered goals on route to a comfortable 4-1 victory.

Following the loss, their sixth on the road this season, the Philadelphia Union (6-8-3) fell out of a MLS Cup Playoff position, moving from sixth to eighth in the Eastern Conference standings.

LAFC (9-4-3), meanwhile, continued their climb in the West, moving into third place in the Western Conference.

Later, Diomandé secured his hat-trick, which was officially the first-ever hat-trick recorded in LAFC’s relatively short history, scoring his third goal of the night in the 55th minute.

Like his second, Diomandé created space for himself at the Union’s back post, before tapping in his third goal of the night. Overall, it was an eerily similar series of events leading up to LAFC’s third goal.

Substitute Aaron Kovar was given ample time to dribble to the byline and pick out his teammate, Latif Blessing, who flicked the ball in the air to an eager Diomandé. From there, the Norwegian did the rest, going to ground to volley home his sixth goal in as many games.

Blessing would add a goal of his own late into stoppage time. It didn’t make too much of a difference, however, as Los Angeles were the dominant side from start to finish, just edging Philly in both possession (54 percent vs. 46 percent) and shots (11 shots, 8 on vs. 10 shots, 2 on).

Scoresheet

Philadelphia Union

Fabrice-Jean Picault (45′)

Los Angeles Football Club

Adama Diomandé (25′, 43′, 55′), Latif Blessing ( 90′ + 6′)

Bookings

Los Angeles Football Club

Steven Beitashour (39′), Lee Nguyen (85′)

Shots

Philadelphia Union

10 Total; 2 On

Los Angeles Football Club

11 Total; 8 On

Possession

Philadelphia Union

46 percent

Los Angeles Football Club

54 percent

Starting XI

Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1)

Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry; Alejandro Bedoya, Warren Creavalle; Fabrice-Jean Picault, Ilsinho (Anthony Fontana, 82′), Marcus Epps (David Accam, 62′); CJ Sapong (Cory Burke, 72′)

Los Angeles Football Club (4-3-3)

Tyler Miller; Steven Beitashour, Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman, João Moutinho; Benny Feilhaber (Callum Mallace, 87′), Eduard Atuesta (Aaron Kovar, 54′), Mark-Anthony Kaye; Latif Blessing, Adama Diomandé (Shaft Brewer Jr., 75′), Lee Nguyen

PFD’s Player of the Game

Jason Hannigan

Adama Diomandé. No brainer. It’s not a safe pick; it’s the right pick. Any time you bag three goals in a football match, you are the Man of the Match.

Diomandé floated and created space for himself throughout the night. He made scoring three goals look easy in the process of doing what CJ Sapong has struggled to do so far this season for the Union. 

Next Match

Philadelphia Union return home to Talen Energy Stadium where they’ll face Atlanta United on Saturday, July 7. Kick off is slated for 7:00 PM EST and will be broadcasted on 6ABC.