Christian Ramirez scored twice in his first start for his new team, lifting LAFC to a 2-0 home victory over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening.
Ramirez was in his second appearance for LAFC after arriving in a trade from Minnesota United last week. After narrowly missing a scoring chance as a substitute last weekend against Sporting Kansas City, his eighth and ninth goals overall this season helped his team snap a five-match league winless skid.
LAFC moved up to third into the compact Western Conference standings. Seven points currently separate second place from eighth, with the top six teams qualifying for the playoffs at the end of the season.
Real Salt Lake lost for the first time in five matches to remain in sixth place and also saw starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando exit at halftime with an injury. Rookie Andrew Putna came on and made four saves in the second half in his MLS debut.
By that time, however, Ramirez had already done his damage.
Carlos Vela set up his new teammate's first goal in the 13th minute when he got hold of a loose ball on the right helped by pressure from midfield teammate Benny Feilhaber. Vela turned and fired a quick diagonal feed to Ramirez as he charged into the penalty area. Ramirez took one touch to control, then fired his second off the bounce past Rimando, who was left with little chance.
Ramirez made it 2-0 17 minutes later after some tight interplay from LAFC down the left. Eduard Atuesta played a give-and-go with Jordan Harvey to carve out some space down the left flank. Then as Vela made a near-post run to draw multiple defenders, Atuesta smartly dragged his cross behind it, where Ramirez was waiting loosely marked for an easy tap-in.
Steven Beitashour nearly made it 3-0 for the hosts in the second half when he got free down the right, only to see Putna deny his effort from a tight angle.
Sebastian Saucedo had RSL's best chance of the game in the 66th minute, but LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller did well to parry his ferocious half-volley from 15 yards.