No team has lost fewer games at home than LAFC, which has dropped just two games at Banc of California Stadium over the last three seasons. So for most road teams, a tie there is as good as a win there.
On Sunday night, the Philadelphia Union might have been the exception.
Three times the Union had a lead and three times gave it back before settling for a 3-3 draw before a sellout crowd of 22,112 that likely left neither team completely satisfied.
Although Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin called the draw a fair result, the Union probably deserved more than a point from a gutsy game in which it smothered LAFC with its high-paced press, put two shots off the crossbar and watched goalkeeper Andre Blake make eight saves — his most since 2015, with some coming in spectacular fashion.
“The environment here is second to none. It’s a tough place to play,” Curtin said. “[I’m] incredibly proud of my players. It’s kind of a win that can bring belief to the team.”
And LAFC must have felt it deserved more from a game in which it controlled the ball nearly two-thirds of the time, outshot the Union 21-9 and showed uncommon resiliency, rallying three times from deficits.
“Sometimes you have to be able to bounce back,” said LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony-Kaye, who praised his team’s character. “Whenever you come back, you gain confidence. Our quality came out.
“This game demanded a lot from us.”
There was a bit of history too, with Carlos Vela’s first-half score giving him at least one goal in 12 consecutive home games dating to May, extending his MLS record. The goal was also his 50th in 61 regular-season games overall, making him the third-fastest player to 50 goals in league history behind only Atlanta’s Josef Martínez and former Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Vela, as has become customary this season despite his role as captain, did not attend the postgame news conference.
LAFC (1-0-1) started quickly and nearly stole an early lead when Vela’s back-heel pass set found a wide-open Tristan Blackmon on the edge of the penalty area, but Blake laid out to push that shot away.
“We certainly had no problem creating chances,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “And they came in different ways.”
The Union (0-1-1) went in front the first time in the 29th minute, with Brenden Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro working the ball across the top of the box to Sergio Santos on the right wing. Santos then stepped to his left to open a shooting lane between Diego Palacios and Kaye before blasting a long left-footed shot by LAFC keeper Kenneth Vermeer, who had a rough night in his second MLS start, with more goals allowed than saves.
The lead lasted less than 10minutes, though, with Vela tying the score on a wicked free kick that just cleared the outstretched hand of a leaping Blake before dipping under the crossbar from about 25yards.
The teams exchanged goals minutes apart twice in the second half. The first instance came just after the break, with Philadelphia’s Jakob Glesnes bending a 40-yard free kick past a flat-footed Vermeer, a goal Rossi quickly pulled back by lifting a right-footed shot over Blake and into the far corner off an assist from Kaye.
Then, after a goal by Aaronson off a scramble in front of Vermeer put the Union in front for the third time in the 69th minute, LAFC defender Eddie Segura again erased the deficit two minutes later, pouncing on a loose ball in the center of the penalty area and slotting it in.
Blake wouldn’t be beat again, though, smothering Rossi’s header in the 85th minute and stopping a point-blank shot from Brian Rodriguez deep in stoppage time to preserve the draw.
“We scored a lot of good goals,” Curtin said of his team’s performance. “But you start with Andre in the back, the saves that he made and the back line working together. You can go through each and every guy.
“We went toe to toe with the best team in the MLS. I think a draw was a fair result.”