By Michelle Huitink // @mchuitink
Los Angeles Galaxy was the only away team to make it out of the first round in the playoffs on October 20, 2019.
LA Galaxy defeated Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field 2-0 on a chilly, autumn evening. The first half was sloppy and the blue, white, and gold didn’t have control of the ball. Overall, the typical and predictable play had fans worried and doubting they could move forward–both the ball and in the playoffs.
The starting line up featured Perry Kitchen, who hadn’t played with the team in over six weeks, but with Joe Corona out on a toe injury, he was the best bet. The Galaxy’s defense has been the weak spot for a few seasons now. So, Rolf Feltscher was replaced by Giancarlo “Pipo” Gonzalez. By playing Pipo back and pulling Kitchen deep, pushing up Jonathan Dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget worked.
Lletget’s breakthrough goal came in the 71st minute.
In the 73rd minute, Romain Alessandrini made his long-awaited return when he was subbed in for Uriel Antuna. Within three minutes, he had assisted Jonathan Dos Santos’s winning goal. He was back in full force and was looking to score. He had a few good runs and chances himself.
LAG conceded a goal late in what turned out to be a physical game, but they’re lucky that’s all because MNUFC had shot after shot and just couldn’t finish the chances they were given, even right in front of net. Per the usual, David Bingham pulled off some major saves.
As for head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s late subs, the question was, who else could he sub even with two players, Gonzalez and Polenta, with yellow cards in the backline? Servando Carrasco got subbed in for Lletget during stoppage time.
There were no Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals this time, but I am more than okay with that because it proves this LA Galaxy team doesn’t rely on him to win and it makes the lion that much hungrier for the next round.
It turns out, LA Galaxy still have a chance to host MLS Cup should they make it to a final against Toronto, which finished the first round with one point less.
The stage is set as the El Trafico saga continues. LA Galaxy are undefeated against LAFC. The conference semifinal is set for Thursday, October 24th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm PST at Banc of California Stadium. Ticket prices are already rising above $200 a person. Watch on ESPN/ESPN Deportes or come to a viewing party.
In 24 seasons, this is the 19th time in club history that LA Galaxy are part of postseason play. Of any team in MLS, LA Galaxy have the most playoff wins, with a record 45, and MLS best five Cup victories.
LA Galaxy are hosting a viewing party again at Dignity Health Sports Park at Legends Plaza. The event is free and open to the public. All fans are encouraged to bring their own seating. Food trucks will be on site. Drink specials include 12 oz Modelo and Corona for $5 and Michelada for $8. Fans may not bring their own alcohol. The clear bag policy is enforced.
Entertainment includes DJ Vick One, the LA Galaxy Star Squad, and Cozmo.
Fans are also given a 20% discount on player products at the LA Galaxy Team Store. There will be a silent auction on site.
I had the opportunity to participate in Sunday’s Watch Party. I felt more appreciated as a fan on this day than even on Fan Appreciation Day. We were given a t-shirt, a $10 food voucher (after signing up for AARP info) and LA Galaxy themed pins (after recommending a family member or close friend as a season ticket member).
At the LA Galaxy Foundation booth, there were tins with secret contents for $20, some of which included a fanny pack, an autographed locker name, or a signed movie-themed poster featuring one of the star players. Unfortunately, the tin was not included. There were other fun festivities such as raffles, and a spin-the-wheel for a chance to get a Galaxy Koozie, pop socket, or key chains.
I couldn’t help but reflect on being a part of previous playoffs and ultimate MLS Cup wins at home in 2011, 2012, and 2014. I know we fans have been deprived of this exhilarating feeling for two seasons. It’s good to be back with such a stellar roster, whose reputations exceed the club’s name, and to have a real chance at adding a sixth star to our jersey. We get to witness history again, and I hope the Galaxy can bring the competition home.
Featured image: LA Galaxy
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