By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
The Los Angeles Football Club‘s winless rivalry streak continues as they lost on the road to the LA Galaxy in a 3-2 scrappy performance. Carlos Vela scored the match’s beginning and ending goals. But Zlatan’s hat trick lifted the home side to victory.
After a chaotic schedule, LAFC finally had a full week to rest and was able to field a full, powerful lineup. However, the midfield lacked energy until the latter part of the match. And the Galaxy took advantage and neutralized them.
The game started off with a bang. Mark-Anthony Kaye connected with Vela, who then drew a penalty from David Bingham in the opening minutes after the keeper came off his line to tackle the captain. Vela stepped up to convert; scoring his 20th MLS career goal and becoming the fastest player in MLS history to reach 20 goals.
However, four minutes later the Galaxy cut celebrations short, as Ibrahimovic matched Vela in the eighth minute. A lobbed pass towards the Swedish striker from midfield landed at his feet. Zlatan lifted the ball over Atuesta with a smooth first touch and then buried a volleyed shot past the diving Tyler Miller inside the close post to restart the game.
After a thrilling ten minutes, both sides started to settle into a rhythm with LAFC continuing to dominate possession – as they did for the entirety of the match with 58.3%.
The Galaxy’s Diego Polenta earned the first of many yellow cards in the 21st minute by sticking a foot out to trip up the surging Tristian Blackmon some ten yards outside the box.
Jair Marrufo handed out a total of nine cards. To be fair, I’m surprised no one got a red card that night.
Miller came up huge again in the 30th minute. Alvarez sent in a header forcing the keeper to go full extension to keep the match level.
Adama Diomande, Eduard Atuesta, and Walker Zimmerman all tried to put LAFC back in the lead before the half. But Bingham was there to save all attempts – similar to how Miller denied the Galaxy’s three back-to-back chances in the 6th minute before Zlatan’s answer.
In the 56th minute, Zlatan doubled the score by heading in Diego Polenta’s cross at the far post.
LAFC soon got their spark back and looked more organized after the double substitution – that saw Lee Nguyen and Mohmmaed El-Munir enter the match, in place of Kaye and Jordan Harvey.
In the 70th minute, Diomande fed a pass wide straight to Rossi with nobody in front of him. He ripped a shot towards the upper near corner that beat Bingham but deflected off the crossbar.
But just as quickly as LAFC regained control of the game, Zlatan snatched it right back.
Zlatan got the cross from Alvarez and dribbled it upfield; sending a left-footed shot from outside the box into the bottom right corner to complete the hat trick in the 71st minute, giving Miller no chance to react.
With an extra five minutes on the clock, LAFC pushed forward desperately trying to take a point. But Diego Rossi’s attempt flew over the bar. Luckily, Vela pulled one back before the ref could blow the whistle. But unfortunately, it would be too little, too late.
Despite the loss, both Vela and Bradley remained optimistic about the future with so many games still ahead. The club remains atop the table with a nine-point cushion.
The black-and-gold will go on to host the Atlanta United at the Banc next Friday, July 26.
Featured Image: @LAFC
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