By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
LAFC vs. LA Galaxy
The Los Angeles Football Club took another lackluster first half and turned it into a polished finish, earning a magical 6-2 victory over rivals LA Galaxy on Saturday night.
There was some question of whether this would feel like a true derby, with LAFC missing Carlos Vela, who opted out of MLS is Back due to his wife’s pregnancy, and the Galaxy missing Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who suffered an injury in training midweek, and Jonathan Dos Santos. But the Black-and-Gold still brought this strange chapter of the rivalry to life.
With only one change to the lineup (goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega replaced Kenneth Vermeer for his first appearance of the year) the Black-and-Gold suffered a another rough start, similar to their first round match against Houston. An early goal in the form of an own goal by Latif Blessing gave their neighbors the lead in the 5th minute.
However, that lead did not last long, as LAFC newcomer Bradley Wright-Philips drew a foul from Perry Kitchen in the 13th minute. Diego Rossi converted the penalty to level the match.
The Galaxy found themselves at the penalty spot at the half-hour mark, after Dejan Jakovic put a heavy challenge on midfielder Joe Corona inside the box. Sisniega blocked Cristian Pavon’s attempt, but the linesman’s flag was up — the keeper had come far off of his line before Pavon shot, resulting in a retake. Pavon scored on the second opportunity to put the Galaxy back ahead 2-1.
For the last fourteen minutes of the half, LAFC did not look themselves as they moved slower and were not linking up well, resulting in sloppy plays. However, Diego Rossi came to the rescue in stoppage time to equalize off the rebound of a blocked shot from Wright-Phillips, sending both teams into the half with two goals on the board.
While LAFC dominated the scoreboard, Galaxy dominated the disciplinary book, drawing three yellows (to LAFC’s two) in the first half. Those first 45 minutes were what fans would expect from the rivalry, one duel and one physical challenge after another.
Shortly after the restart, the momentum shifted to the Black-and-Gold’s favor once again. Two minutes after a goal from Pavon was nullified by an offside call, Bradley Wright-Philips scored his second goal in his second-straight match to put LAFC back ahead 3-2.
In the 75th minute, Mark-Anthony Kaye found Brian Rodriguez on the wing. Rodriguez sent a cross through the box to Rossi who completed his hat trick with one touch. Five minutes later, second-half sub Mohamed El-Munir fired a rocket from outside the box past a shocked David Bingham, adding an insurance goal to the tally.
Bingham and the rest of Galaxy’s defense seemed to have woken up after conceding that fourth goal, but LAFC continued to press them for the remainder of the match. And they succeeded, with Rossi adding his fourth goal of the night during stoppage time.
LA Galaxy are clearly hurting without Dos Santos. Pavon and Sebastien Lletget combined for just three shots over 90 minutes, with only one on target. By contrast, LAFC’s front three of Rossi, Wright-Philips and Rodriguez, let off 12 shots. The Galaxy will need to fix that if they hope to earn any points from this tournament.
Both clubs will close out their group stage on Thursday, July 23. LA Galaxy face third-place Houston Dynamo in prime time and LAFC will meet first-place Portland Timbers under the lights.
Featured Image: MLS (Xavier Dussaq)
Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Aracelv1