On Saturday, Los Angeles Football Club, LAFC, went to Real Salt Lake and collected a 5-1 victory to improve to 2-0-0, a perfect start and top of MLS on goal differential.
LAFC's stadium, which sits on Figueroa Ave. next to the LA Memorial Coliseum, is still under construction, so the MLS newcomers start life in the league as traveling nomads until late April. After claiming a surprising 1-0 scalp away to the Seattle Sounders, LAFC traveled to Real Salt Lake to strike its next victim.
Saturday's match, though, saw the visitors trailing in the 20th minute.
LAFC's Canadian defender, Dejan Jakovic, lunged in recklessly as Salt Lake's Joao Plata stormed into the LAFC penalty area. A whistle blew, a man pointed to a spot, and the aggrieved party stepped up to take the penalty kick.
— LAFC (@LAFC) March 10, 2018
Plata failed to beat LAFC goal keeper Tyler Miller on the spot kick, but the 26-year-old Ecuadorian did managed to convert the chance on the rebound. Real Salt Lake led 1-0 despite Miller's heroics.
In the 30th minute, LAFC midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Marco Ureña combined to launch no. 9 Diego Rossi in on goal from the right side. The Uruguay may not yet be old enough to drink alcohol, but the quality of his finish argued otherwise.
One-third of the way through the match, the teams had played to an even 1-1. Foreshadowing LAFC's stampede of goals, the visitors took the lead only three minutes after drawing level.
No. 7 Latif Blessing got the final touch and took credit for a goal that involved Carlos Vela providing service into the box, Ureña controlling a bullet pass and finding Rossi. The 20-year-old Uruguayan tapped the ball to an on-rushing Steven Beitashourin. The San Jose born Iranian national, Beitashourin, claimed the assist when he thumped in a pass that found an alert Blessing waiting at the back post.
Real Salt Lake's calls for an offside flag went unheard, and the 2-1 scoreline held until the half but not much longer after that.
The 31-year-old Iranian national played a vital role in LAFC's next goal, too, which arrived fewer than two minutes into the second half. Rossi again picked out Beitashourin charging up the right side. The Persian full back played a first-time pass to the center of the box, and Feilhaber opened his scoring account for the season.
After a level 1-1 for the first 30 minutes, the final hour featured an LAFC rout of 4-0. Rossi collected his brace in the 81st minute, and Vela ended the day's scoring with a fifth and final LAFC tally four minutes shy of full time.
Vela assisted Rossi's goal and vice versa.
Even better than expected, designated players Rossi and Vela have been at the heart of LAFC's strong start. The designated duo's chemistry combined to create the lone goal in Seattle a week earlier, and both put their footprints down all over the park in Salt Lake City.
Two weeks into its MLS life, LAFC is top of the standings, and the star players are delivering.
Next, LAFC takes a three-week hiatus before traveling to the LA Galaxy on Mar. 31 in what promises to be the first of many LA derbies, or rivalry games, between the two teams. LAFC plays its first home game on Apr. 29, while the LA Galaxy don't visit Banc of California Stadium until July 26.