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Battle for LA Ends in a LAFC Come-from-behind Draw

latiff-blessing-lafc-v-lagalaxy
latiff-blessing-lafc-v-lagalaxy

The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) welcomed their rivals the LA Galaxy to Banc of California Stadium to finish off rivalry week and hoping to do something they hadn’t done against the Galaxy, win.

Despite having the most points in the MLS in their two years of existence, scoring the most goals, and playing in the intimidating fortress that is the Banc, there is one thing that LAFC has not been able to do and that is beat their rivals.

In four games against the Galaxy, LAFC is 0-2-2 and have conceded 10 goals while only scoring eight themselves. Despite being great against the rest of MLS, for some reason LAFC have been unable to contain the Galaxy.

The main culprit has been LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has torched LAFC, scoring six goals including a hat trick in their last meeting.

Sunday night’s game seemed to be no different, it took just two minutes for Ibrahimovic to score when Cristian Pavon slotted a pass to him which Ibrahimovic coolly scored the first goal of the game.

LAFC winger Latif Blessing getting around LA Galaxy defender Diego Polenta | Photo by Juan Contreras for LA Soccer Nation | August 25, 2019

LAFC was not down long as Latif Blessing the smallest player on the field asserted himself and was rewarded when he scored getting his head on the ball off a deflected save by Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham.

Seemingly given new life LAFC folded quickly, the LA Galaxy scored two goals in just 69 seconds. First a Galaxy pass deflected off LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman playing Ibrahimovic onside and a one-vs-one with goalkeeper Tyler Miller. Ibrahimovic rounded Miller and scored into an empty net.

It was Ibrahimovic’s eighth goal against LAFC in five games proving again how dominant he plays in this derby.

LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic flicking a header over LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman | Photo by Juan Contreras for LA Soccer Nation | August 25, 2019

Before LAFC could recover Cristian Pavon took a chipped pass and scored near post on a shot Miller should have had. Just like that LAFC was down 3-1 at home to their biggest rival.

Los Angeles found their resolve and began to assert themselves putting pressure on the Galaxy again. Right before halftime it was Blessing again as he got onto a deflected shot rounded Bingham and scored his second goal.

With the late goal momentum now switched to the Black and Gold, they sought to tie the game in the second half. The numbers bore out as LAFC would not allow any shots in the second half after giving up six in the first half.

In the 51st minute, it was Vela’s turn to put the team on his back taking a pass in the box from Mark-Anthony Kaye and putting the ball in the net with his famed left foot.

LAFC goalscorer Carlos Vela celebrates with his teammates | Photo by Juan Contreras for LA Soccer Nation | August 25, 2019

Just ten minutes later though, it was a different Vela. A hamstring injury forced his departure for Brian Rodriguez who made his LAFC debut. Vela was visibly angry as he left the field, post-game Bob Bradley justified his decision stating: “I made the decision tonight that was best for the team.”

The extent of the energy won’t be known until after an MRI that would take place on Monday and was confirmed by Coach Bob Bradley.

LAFC even without Vela maintained their pressure seeking the win and forced Bingham to make some saves, but the fourth goal never came. Postgame Bob Bradley noted the team’s improvement in the second half:

“The response in the second half was great. We had a bunch of chances still. The fourth one was there for us, but it didn’t happen tonight”

After 90 minutes of high-pressure soccer, L.A. could not claim a win and again have to live with another year where they could not beat their rivals.

The season marches on for LAFC as they seek their first trophy, the Supporters Shield and perhaps later an MLS Cup. If these two teams meet in the playoffs, Bob Bradley had this to say: “Sure we’d like to play them..it’s a big game.”

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