LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cristian Arango continued his scoring tear with his seventh goal in four matches, and Los Angeles FC stayed in the MLS playoff race with a 3-0 thrashing of the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night.
Brian Rodríguez and Latif Blessing scored in the first half as LAFC moved into a seventh-place tie and a temporary playoff spot by goal differential over Vancouver, which has a game in hand.
LAFC is unbeaten in five straight matches, rallying late in a disappointing season in an attempt to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. LAFC hosts the Whitecaps on Nov. 2 in its final home match of the regular season.
Seattle struggled while its winless skid stretched to four games. The Sounders are still three points ahead of Kansas City and Colorado atop the conference table, but Sporting has two games in hand and the Rapids have one.
Arango put LAFC up by three goals when he blasted a twisting shot from well outside the box past Stefan Frei. The Colombian forward has been spectacular since joining the club in August from Millonarios, scoring 13 goals in 15 matches.
LAFC took the lead in the 21st minute when Rodríguez ran on to a beautiful through pass from Raheem Edwards and put his third goal of the season between Frei's legs. Rodríguez returned to LAFC in July after an unproductive half-season on loan in Spain's second division.
LAFC then caught the Sounders napping late in first-half injury time. Blessing streaked into the box and roofed Kim Moon-Hwan's deflected pass on a volley for his second goal of the year.
Both teams were missing key players from past rivalry matchups due to injuries, with Seattle playing without Raul Ruidiaz (knee injury) and Joao Paulo (yellow card accumulation). LAFC played without midfielders Eduard Atuesta (right shoulder injury), Jose Cifuentes (yellow card accumulation) and Francisco Ginella (injured).
But LAFC got some good news when Carlos Vela came on as a substitute in the 78th minute, making his first appearance since Aug. 21.
The 32-year-old Vela hadn’t even been available off the bench while missing the previous 11 matches with a quadriceps injury that has limited him to just nine full matches all year. The 2019 MLS MVP also missed all but seven matches in the 2020 season, and his LAFC contract expires this winter.
“Ted Lasso” actors Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Brett Goldstein attended the match in LAFC gear. Hunt, who plays Coach Beard, is an LAFC supporter and ticket holder.
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Greg Beacham, The Associated Press