Still no win in the rivalry
Facts are facts: LAFC haven’t beat the Galaxy yet in five tries. At the same time, LAFC haven’t lost at The Banc to the Galaxy yet, either. It’s faint solace, perhaps, but something worth keeping in perspective among all the banter.
But it’s going to be something that will stick in LAFC’s craw until the next match. If it doesn’t come in the playoffs, they’ll have to wait nearly a year for the next chance, and it’s only going to add to the intrigue of the rivalry, for better or worse.
A tale of two halves
First half, LAFC were terrible, frankly. If not for a couple big plays, finished off by Latif Blessing, who seemed determined to win the game by himself, the first half would have been a complete disaster and the Galaxy may have been up 3-0 or 4-0.
The issues we saw in the last game between the teams cropped up again for LAFC in the first half: They played tight, they couldn’t string passes together, and they were defending badly. It all added up to a halftime where it felt like LAFC could lose 7-3 at the end of 90 minutes.
But credit to the black-and-gold, as they shook themselves out of a torpor and settled down to play like themselves in the second half. They had the patience to find the right passes, they dictated the game, and pushed the Galaxy to the brink. They didn’t find the breakthrough, but they battled back for a result and that’s way better than taking another L against their rivals.
Vela’s ups and downs
Carlos Vela was effectively shut down in the first half (although he nearly drew a red card on Jorgen Skjelvik, who had to be yanked), and then he scored the big equalizer, his 27th goal of the season in league play.
And then, it got weird. Vela seemed to tweak his hamstring on a ball over the top after his goal, tried to play on it, but LAFC’s coaching staff didn’t want to risk his long-term health and took him off right before a corner kick. Vela was Not. Happy. as he yelled at Bob Bradley in a profanity-laced fit caught on camera.
Bradley tried to calm the situation by putting an arm around Vela and explaining the move. If Vela misses little to no time in the long run, it was the right move, and Vela being mad about it is also fine, the guy had been labeled a flake who didn’t care prior to coming to LAFC. Vela didn’t get to play the hero on the night, but if he’s able to lift the Supporters’ Shield and be fully up for a playoff run then that’s what had to happen, like it or not.
There were chances...
Two big chances by Adama Diomande on the doorstep, one in each half. The Galaxy are built on a game-changing play or two a game and LAFC use volume to batter opponents into submission, but in a game where LAFC were so desperate for a win those couple misses were huge. LAFC put a little over a third of their shots on target, but for all that the Galaxy let them back into the game in the second half, David Bingham played well enough that LAFC were left ruing the misses.
Oh yeah, amidst all of this drama, a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace, a Latif Blessing brace, Carlos Vela scoring the equalizer then being taken off around the hour mark, a rivalry draw, the man who replaced Vela was...none other that newcomer Brian Rodriguez, making his MLS debut.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately: He did not “pull a Horta” and drop a win against the Galaxy in his first appearance, so that’s already a good omen. As unfair as it is to both guys, it has to be said, the symmetry is eerie and therefore worth discussing.
Beyond that, Rodriguez showed some glimpses of why he was so prized, with a couple great dribbles, a willingness to take shots and some good ideas in setting up plays, too. He also dribbled into the endline and lost the ball a couple times, and his shots were sprayed all over the place, but for it being his first game in a new league in a pressure-packed situation, it was a solid debut. If only he could have been the hero, but at least he wasn’t the goat in the end.
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