Whew, that was a roller coaster, but LAFC finally defeated the Galaxy 5-3 to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Here’s what stood out to us about this match.
Slay the Dragon
It was always going to be, wasn’t it? Having to play the LA Galaxy in the playoffs, who LAFC had not beaten to try and keep this magical season going. And it was also always going to be that it was going to be a tough game against the Galaxy.
Despite throwing away another lead to Carson, LAFC rebounded, and in a spectacular second half performance headlined by Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande, LAFC came out on top 5-3. After giving up the lead to make it 2-2, Rossi and Dio each scored two minutes apart, and Dio added a late goal to seal it after Rolf Feltscher headed in off a free kick. End to end it was thrilling action, and thankfully this time LAFC came out on top.
The errors were still there
In true El Trafico fashion, LAFC threw away a lead with just a comedy of errors. At 2-1 early in the second half, Steven Beitashour tried to pass the ball back to Tyler Miller. Tristan Blackmon tried to control the ball off his chest, but all he did was slow it down and deflect it right to Zlatan. Zlatan was through, but didn’t actually connect well with his shot. But it didn’t matter as the shot somehow snuck through Tyler Miller to make it 2-2. It was just one play, but in the past, it sunk LAFC in these games. Unlike past performances LAFC rallied and won the game, but they didn’t do so easily.
Vela shines while Zlatan fades
Zlatan gets the most headlines from this rivalry, and largely well deserved, as he has haunted LAFC in meetings past. But Carlos Vela has scored in every single match against the Galaxy, and he continued that tonight.
Vela opened the scoring with a great move to get open and then a right-footed(?) finish. He then doubled the lead after tapping in a pass from Brian Rodriguez (after Rodriguez appeared to be offside in the lead-up).
Vela’s best play of the game though was not one of his goals, but the way he kept the ball and kept his feet near the top of the box, and then played a perfect through ball to Rossi for the goal that decisively swung this game.
Meanwhile, LAFC mostly held Zlatan in check. He still had his moments, a good box out and then pass to Cristian Pavon to put the Galaxy on the board, and then got lucky on a scuffed shot to tie the game at 2-2.
From there, LAFC did a good job of shutting Zlatan down, and finally came out on top against their nemesis.
Go Diego Go
Rossi has at times been questioned about his production, especially in big games. He might have put any questions to bed after tonight with a stellar second-half performance.
Rossi had a clinical finish off a pass from Vela to make it 3-2. He then had the great run and assist to Dio not two minutes later to break the game wide open.
Rossi was sensational when it mattered most, and Vela, Rodriguez, and now Dio back in the fold, LAFC’s attack looks as strong as ever.
This match was Diomande’s first match back on the field since he returned to the team, after voluntarily entering the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavior heath program a month ago.
We all thrilled that Dio is back and seems to be in a good place. And did he ever make his on-field return count.
Dio entered the match in 59th minute, and helped occupy the Galaxy center backs and allow Rossi and Vela to get more space on the wings. 10 minutes after coming on Dio scored a header to make the game 4-2.
After the Galaxy got a goal back on the other end to make it 4-3, Dio finished the game off with a sensational run through the middle and chipped finish over David Bingham.
On the field it looked Dio had never left. It was huge for him and the team to have him back, and now we move on to face the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Finals.
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