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Carlos Vela connects on late penalty, LAFC beats San Jose

Los Angeles FC midfielder José Cifuentes moves the ball up the field against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela converts a penalty kick for the winning goal against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC midfielder Erik Dueñas looks to pass against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC defender Diego Palacios, left, kicks the ball as he is chase by San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Dénis Bouanga, center, chases the ball defended by San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza, left, and midfielder Judson, right, during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC midfielder Mateusz Bogusz, left, fights off San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Carlos Gruezo during the first half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Stipe Biuk dribbles the ball against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Dénis Bouanga recovers the ball against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC defender Denil Maldonado, top left, headers the ball against San Jose Earthquakes forward Ousseni Bouda during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Mahala Opoku recovers the ball against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC midfielder Timothy Tillman, right, dribbles the ball against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Dénis Bouanga (99) chases the ball against a San Jose Earthquakes defender during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC midfielder Ilie Sánchez brings the ball up the field against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) moves the ball between two San Jose Earthquakes defenders during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela, left, celebrates after converting a penalty kick for the winning goal against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half of an MLS soccer match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Los Angeles FC won 2-1. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr., Contributing Photographer)

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LOS ANGELES —In a full reversal of their meeting earlier this month, the Los Angeles Football Club scored early and connected on a late penalty to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, at BMO Stadium.

The result was a measure of revenge for LAFC falling at Levi’s Stadium on May 6 by the same scoreline when the Earthquakes ended the Black & Gold’s run as the last unbeaten team in Major League Soccer, also on a penalty.

LAFC captain Carlos Vela converted from the spot during stoppage time after referee Ismail Elfath confirmed via video review that defender Tanner Beason handled the ball in the box.

The outcome lifted LAFC (7-1-4, 25 points) to first place in the Western Conference, and kept them within five points of Supporters’ Shield leaders Cincinnati FC.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s match LAFC forward Stipe Biuk hoped to improve the quality of his shots when given the chance.

Playing 448 minutes during LAFC’s 11 previous league games, the 20-year-old Croatian talent, who signed a four-year contract with the club in December, had scored once after 14 tries, six of which were on target.

On a night when LAFC rested the league’s leading goal scorer Denis Bouanga and Vela, the single-season scoring record holder, over the first hour of the match, Biuk needed three minutes to be as clinical as he wished.

LAFC went with a mix-and-match lineup as an intensely busy stretch continued to unfold prior to a US Open Cup match versus the Galaxy on Tuesday and the anticipated start of the CONCACAF Champions League final on May 31.

Paired with 21-year-old forwards Mateusz Bogusz and Mahala Opoku in the starting lineup, which also featured a makeshift backline as several of the club’s center backs rested with leg injuries, Biuk received a pass in the box from Jose Cifuentes and deftly sidestepped to his right before striking a low shot that beat Earthquakes’ goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski.

LAFC buzzed around San Jose’s net looking to extend the lead, however the Earthquakes (5-5-3, 18 points) found the equalizer in the 53rd minute when Peruvian defender Miguel Trauco scored his first MLS goal in his 12th match.

In contrast to Biuk’s sharp shot, no one on the field sensed that Trauco’s offering from outside the box had eyes for goal. That included LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy, who made a save in the 32nd minute on a rocket of a shot but was slow to react this time as the left-footed volley floated into the danger area before bouncing into the net.

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