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LAFC storms ‘Quakes behind Vela hat trick

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The Earthquakes and Los Angeles Football Club were on opposite ends of the Western Conference standings entering Saturday’s contest. And the results represented every bit of that separation.

The Earthquakes and Los Angeles Football Club were on opposite ends of the Western Conference standings entering Saturday’s contest. And the results represented every bit of that separation.

LAFC extended their lead in the West, thanks in large part to a Carlos Vela hat trick, crushing San Jose 5-0.

From the onset, the ‘Quakes made a concerted effort to play the ball out from the back, hoping to fast-track learning a new system new head coach Matias Almeyda is in the process of implementing. Those efforts led to winning the possession battle in the first half, but still no points. LAFC dominated all other aspects of the first half.

Of his team’s approach, Almeyda said:

“At first, we had a game plan to pressure the opponent a certain way, in their first goal we pressured a different way and it led to a goal scoring chance. We prepared our game to not play with a flat back line, and during the second goal, we had a flat line.”

Shea Salinas and Tommy Thompson served as the fullbacks, giving starter Nick Lima the game off after traveling with the United States National team during the international break. The rest of the line up remained unchanged from the previous three games.

Normally a forward, Thompson mentioned he is willing to line up wherever the team needs him:

“There are great outside backs on this team so I’ll continue to learn from them. I just wanna help whether I’m playing center mid, as a forward, as a winger, I just want to help.”

The breakthrough for the visitors came early, eight minutes to be exact, stemming from a costly error from Goalkeeper Daniel Vega, who had made a fine save to stop a one on against a streaking Diego Rossi just minutes earlier.

Vega ran out of his box and attempted to hoof the ball back upfield but missed it entirely, allowing the opportunistic Vela to retrieve the ball and walk it into the net for what will surely be the easiest goal of his career.

In the 25th minute, LAFC midfielder Eduardo Atuesta slipped a marvelous pass inside the ‘Quakes box that cut right through and took out their entire defense. The pass was intended for defender Steven Beitashour, who calmly struck a low shot into the bottom right corner doubling the lead at 2 sending the nearby visitor fans section into a frenzy.

San Jose remained aggressive with and without the ball pressing LAFC relentlessly when they had possession, but that led to San Jose being vulnerable in the middle of the field. What was a 2-0 lead, easily could have been four or five if not for some great saves from Quakes keeper Vega.

When asked if he planned to make his style more defensive to be able to stay competitive in certain games Almeyda said:

“It depends but I don’t think so, I believe in projects, and my project is for four years.”

Chris Wondolowski said of the four-year plan:

“I know I’ll have a role, might not be at the top of the mountain when it comes but if I can help guys along the way then that’s my goal.”

The lead grew to three right before halftime after LAFC keeper Tyler Miller got a hold of the ball and launched another LAFC attack.

A long throw from the goalie eventually led to a flicked header right into the path of a surging Rossi who carried the ball up the left flank. Rossi played a low cross for Vela who scored from super close range and his second on the day.

The only mystery or drama left for the second half had to do with Vela, and whether or not he could notch a third score.

In the 66th minute, everyone in the stadium got their answer.

The Mexican forward saved his best goal for last scoring a long-range curler into the top corner. The goal was an absolute stunner and silenced any remaining Quakes fans, especially the Ultras who witnessed it right in front of them.

If that weren’t enough, Vela added to the misery two minutes later in the 68th, this time with an assist, setting up Rossi in the box where he flung a low shot into the right corner ending the game.

On the result a clearly frustrated Almeyda said:

“There are bitter moments in sports. I am not happy at all. This is the first time as a coach that I lose 5-0.”

Center back Guram Kashia was visibly upset in the locker room after the loss but was appreciative of the fans when he said:

“They have all the right to be angry at us because we didn’t deliver. It is amazing that after the five goals scored, they were still cheering the team.”

San Jose has now not won a game since August 29th, dating back to last season, including 11 straight without a win. Everyone acknowledged that it would take time to implement a whole new style with a few new players, but now at 0-4, the ‘Quakes find themselves in a deeper hole than they could have thought.

Up next

San Jose will get another home game looking to get their first points of the season. The ‘Quakes host the Portland Timbers this Saturday at Avaya Stadium at 5 p.m.

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