Atuesta, Smith score in LAFC’s 1-1 draw with Sounders

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eduard Atuesta scored the fastest goal in Los Angeles FC history in the second minute, and Brad Smith headed home his first MLS goal early in the second half for the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference powers’ 1-1 draw Saturday.

LAFC earned four points in its two season-opening home games with no contributions from its two best players, Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Coach Bob Bradley was heartened by the draw against the team that has knocked LAFC out of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

“I liked our mentality,” Bradley said. “I felt that the concentration to really stay in the game against a good team was at a high level. I thought we had opportunities in the second half had we been able to be a little sharper with the final pass, or sometimes our crossing. Just little things around the box where we weren’t good enough or sharp enough.”

Seattle also went to 1-0-1 in its road opener while playing without captain Nicolás Lodeiro, who has a strained left quadriceps.

Atuesta scored after backup striker Kwadwo Opoku was taken down by Seattle’s Xavier Arreaga inches from the penalty area.

Atuesta booted his free kick directly under the Seattle wall from the lip of the penalty area, beating Stefan Frei just 85 seconds after the opening whistle. The previous fastest goal in 4-year-old LAFC’s history was 96 seconds in by Dejan Jakovic last September.

The Sounders got just one of their six shots on target in the first half, and Cristian Roldan hit the post from 25 yards out on their best chance.

Seattle finally equalized in the 54th minute when Pablo Sisniega saved Raúl Ruidíaz’s initial header before Smith lowered his bald head to waist height and knocked in the rebound. The Australian wingback’s goal was his first in 38 regular-season matches with the Sounders.

Ruidíaz missed the net on an open header deep in the box in the 89th minute.

LAFC’s backup attackers struggled to mount any significant scoring chances while the club played its second straight game without 2020 Golden Boot winner Rossi, who has a hamstring injury.

Vela, who played only 20 minutes in the season opener before coming off with an injury, also was unavailable against Seattle under MLS’ health and safety protocols. Bradley said that designation was required because Vela missed a COVID test this week, but the former MLS MVP wouldn’t have played anyway due to a slight quadriceps strain.

Bradley is hopeful Rossi and Vela both will be available next week in Houston.

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