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LAFC and Portland – a short but dramatic MLS rivalry

In their inaugural season, LAFC made an unlikely rival, the Portland Timbers. Tomorrow, they host their second home match of the season against the Timbers who they faced three times in 2018, twice in league play and once in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal round that eliminated Portland.

It doesn’t take long to make enemies, especially in the exaggerated world of sports.  In their first meeting of 2018, the Timbers cut off LAFC’s 6-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win at Providence Park. A couple months later, the visitors held the home team to a 0-0 draw, grabbing a point on LAFC’s own turf. It extended both teams unbeaten streaks. The game also heralded the return of Carlos Vela from his World Cup tour but anxious fans were forced to watch him take 4 shots, the last being a misplaced header in the 94th minute. Lee Ngyuen, still relatively new to LAFC, was handed a red card for catching Sebastian Blanco’s upper leg with a high cleat. Overall the game was a let-down. But a mere three days afterwards, the teams met up again at Banc of California Stadium in the USOC, and this time the home side reigned victorious. Unfortunately it was also a match marred by allegations of racism by LAFC’s Adama Diomande. He took it to social media in an Instagram post.

“Today was the first time in my professional career that I was called the «N» word on the field. They will say sorry to me after the game and please let it go, but If I don’t say anything racism will just continue to grow.
No matter which country, color, religion or which language your speaking we all are human being and we should respect each other no matter what! #saynotoracism 🧔🏻🧔🏼🧔🏽🧔🏾🧔🏿The player have been reported!”

Months later, the verdict from U.S. Open Cup came. Insufficient evidence. “Given the possibility that it is always possible to mishear or misunderstand another individual in a tense situation, the Panel concluded it does not have a basis to value the credibility of one player over another in this matter.” The matter was considered closed by both USSF and the Portland Timbers. But it left a bad taste in Diomande’s mouth and LAFC issued their reply, accepting the decision but showing disappointment in the Timbers for turning a blind eye, but also standing by their player. “We stand by Adama Diomande and his courageous public statement.”

He’s still recuperating from his hernia surgery and openly admitted in post-game last Sunday to needing more time before he will return as a starter for LAFC. While tomorrow’s match will be a perfect venue for revenge, given Diomande’s last moment game-winner last weekend, he will let his performance, however short, do most of the talking.

Featured Image: LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 18: Adama Diomande #99 of Los Angeles FC makes a point during the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal between Los Angeles FC and Portland Timbers at the Banc of California Stadium on July 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles FC won the match 3-2(Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

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