Cristian Arango scores twice, LAFC beats Real Salt Lake – Daily News

Entering the last third of the season, the Los Angeles Football Club needs points any way they can find them.

Sunday night at Banc of California Stadium during the last Major League Soccer clash of the weekend LAFC did exactly that, holding onto a 3-2 lead they were gifted to nail down a crucial Western Conference showdown against Real Salt Lake.

Two goals from Cristian Arango plus an own-goal lifted LAFC (8-9-6, 30 points) into dead heat with RSL for the last MLS Cup postseason spot.

RSL (8-8-6, 30 points) continues to sit in the seventh position due to a two goal advantage over LAFC via the goal differential tiebreaker.

“Tonight we have a great reward worthy of our great effort,” Arango said. “We suffer together and celebrate together.”

The fastest goal in LAFC history — the eighth quickest in MLS competition — delivered the Black & Gold an advantage 20 seconds after the opening whistle.

The sequence started near midfield when LAFC’s Colombian captain Eduard Atuesta picked up the ball and dribbled into RSL territory.

Atuesta picked out midfielder Bryce Duke running to his right, which opened a window to feed Danny Musovski in the box. Duke’s delivery, his second assist in as many matches, was redirected and fell to Arango, whose clean touch allowed him to beat RSL goalkeeper David Ochao.

The two sides tussled over the opening half hour until RSL’s Damir Kreilach again made an impact on the series.

The midfielder’s curling one-timer from outside the box leveled the score at one apiece and set in motion a frantic give and take — and give — 90 minutes.

“Wild game,” Bradley said. “Sometimes as you get into the latter part of the season and you’re playing these six point games they can become fast and furious. There’s mistakes on both sides.”

After Kreilach’s equalizer, LAFC wasted no time regaining the lead.

Arango, 26, secured his brace two minutes later when Atuesta lofted a chipped pass at his countryman’s head.

The redirected pass produced Arango’s fourth goal in LAFC’s last three contests.

“He wanted to be here and from the beginning you could tell he’s got a strong character and a great mentality,” Bradley said regarding the Colombian forward. “That part rubs off in a good way on everybody.

“He’s a guy you can count on. He plays for the team. He puts himself in really good positions in the box. He showed he can play an important role for us.”

RSL leveled the contest in the 48th minute when a rare miscue by Duke created a breakaway that gave forward Anderson Julio an opportunity to pick out the near post and beat Tomas Romero.

Then, as the hour mark approached, RSL gave away the game winner and a season sweep for LAFC.

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