“Every year is different. We’re just taking it one step at a time, one game at a time.” Mark-Anthony was referring to his team’s growth but may have well been talking about his own path as a player.
Mark-Anthony Kaye, instrumental in a successful inaugural season for LAFC was robbed the opportunity to reach the playoffs with his teammates last year, but he opened the floodgates today against Western Conference rival, the Portland Timbers. “The toughest part of it is battling through, coming back after the surgery, and learning how to walk again, how to run again.” Kaye told MLS.com back in December 2018 while he was biding his time waiting, commentating, easing his way back to his spot in the lineup. The injury that abruptly ended his chances also gave him time to reflect and slow down while recuperating in time for this season. The Toronto, Canada native began his journey to LA back in 2015 with Toronto FC II before heading to Louisville City FC where he spent two seasons racking up a reputation as someone who could be counted on to develop with time. He only notched 5 goals in those two years but helped his team lift the 2017 USL Championship trophy. It was enough to gain the respect of Bob Bradley who trusted Kaye with a promotion to the next level. In 20 appearances last year, Kaye got a respectable 5 assists and 2 goals in a little over 2000 minutes of play. This time, he’s back with a bit more to prove to himself, his fans, his enemies and his teammates. Today, was another giant leap for Kaye, a bit more patient than 2018, but just as far-reaching in his impact on the midfield.
Another breakout from last year, Jeremy Ebobisse, stands alone today. In spite of getting his first goal for the season, the lone scorer for Portland today drew criticism for not being able to contribute to the Rapids’ scoring tally in a frigid Colorado goalfest that yielded 3 apiece for each team. He had 1 shot at goal, and only 12 passes that entire game. He was frozen. A 22-year-old Ebobisse got the go-ahead as a starting striker for Portland midseason last year after the departures of Fanendo Adi and Samuel Armenteros and returned from his first USMNT National Camp debut this past January, ready for more. He’s already seeing the writing on the wall though and knows he needs to make an impact in the starting lineup before Portland sign their next star striker. But today, in spite of a disheartening show for the Rapids who are still just at the beginning of their 12-game road tour, he was the standout when he headed home a Diego Valeri free kick in the 29th minute to, for the moment, equalize the game. Before LAFC took their attack to the next level in the second half, Portland stood a chance at a comeback.
Two men for opposite teams netted their first goals of their season in an effort to prove to themselves that they’re just getting started, and hushed their doubters for now.
Portland await their first win of the season and LAFC take another 3 points. Final Score: 4-1.
Goals scored by:
14′ Mark-Anthony Kaye (assisted by Carlos Vela) — LAFC
29′ Jeremy Ebobisse (Diego Valeri) — Portland
45′ Christian Ramirez — LAFC
65′ Adama Diomande — LAFC (Carlos Vela, Latif Blessing)
68′ Carlos Vela — LAFC (Adama Diomande)