Deja vu! Galaxy heroics earn stunning draw against LAFC
It's only fitting the fate of the rivalry match artfully dubbed 'El Tráfico' saw 90 minutes of play only to have neither team pull forward.
Already ahead 1-0 courtesy of a Carlos Vela 7th minute uncontested header, LAFC was awarded a free kick from 24 yards out in the 20th minute.
As Galaxy keeper David Bingham bellowed instructions to his defenders, LAFC players stood motionless across the field. While midfielder Lee Nguyen sized up the forthcoming free kick, there were 12 players within the boundary of the box: 10 donned Galaxy jerseys.
With seven guys manning the wall, Nguyen laced the ball mere inches over the head of a defender and tucked it in the lower 90, out of reach from an outstretched Bingham. As the Galaxy players lingered motionless, all of Los Angeles-- yes, Los Angeles, not Carson-- erupted.
However, LAFC had been in this position before only to see fortunes turn sour in the matter of minutes.
In the first meeting between the two clubs in late March, LAFC jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. All was going better than anticipated until an act of 'god' struck. In the 71st, now only two goals separating the clubs whose home bases are only 12 miles apart, Zlatan Ibrahimovic subbed in for the Galaxy. Like a bolt of lightning, the Swedish striker rejuvenated the club.
In six minutes, the Galaxy netted successive goals to tie the game before Ibrahimovic demonstrated why he has earned the ability to to call himself a god. In his MLS debut, Ibrahimovic completed a header in the 91st to win it in dramatic fashion.
Defying science in the grimmest of ways for LAFC, lightning did indeed strike twice.
In the 82nd, it was none other than the god himself carving through enemy lines to create an opening for his teammate.
Cutting down the right side, Ibrahimovic sliced a low cross into the middle of the box that was settled by Romain Alessandrini, who took a touch before striking it into the same corner as Nguyen had an hour before.
"It's not a good feeling when you see everyone hoping around, everybody scared like, 'I don't want the ball,'" Vela said about the team's change in attitude after seeing one go in the net. "You can feel it's not going to happen. If the game lasted for five more minutes, we lost for sure. This is not the way to be a great team. If we want to fight for the title, win good things here, we have to improve. We have to be a better team and don't let these points go in the game. It's not good."
After tasting blood, once again six minutes was all the Galaxy need to draw even.
When André Horta checked into his first career MLS match in the 76th to give LAFC some fresh legs in the midfield, he couldn't have foreseen what was about to occur.
The 21-year-old, who has appeared in over 20 matches for the Portuguese youth national system, made a fatal flaw. His team holding the one goal advantage in the 86th and he holding possession with a man on his back, he attempted to play the ball back to his keeper from midfield. While the path appeared clear, lurking behind the play was Galaxy's Ola Kamara, who intercepted the pass and walked the equalizer into the net with ease.
"When he comes on we remind him to be smart," LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said about Horta. "Obviously it's a really bad decision to play a ball back from that part of the field and it turns into 2-2."
It only took four minutes this time.
"The whole MLS is everything can happen," Ibrahimovic said. "You lose 2 or 3 to 0, the game is front and back. You can come up catch them 2-2, 3-3, and even win the game because you will get chances. you will get chances and you will get good chances. The only thing is you have to make sure you score when you get those chances. That is not like the Championship or the countries I've played in. You don't get a lot of chances. You get one or two. If you don't score on those chances, you don't win the game and they punish you for that, but here you will get a lot of chances. I am starting to understand the game much more and today we got chances. LAFC was a better team and we got chances and took care of the chances we got."
2-2. A standstill. Just what El Tráfico calls for.