by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
LOS ANGELES – For the first time in front of over 23,000 at Banc of California Stadium, the most intense rivalry in sports brought fans together on a warm Thursday night near Downtown Los Angeles to witness a 5-3 LAFC victory over the L.A. Galaxy.
Carlos Vela broke the single season scoring record this season, and is on pace to be the MLS MVP, and the team captured the Supporters Shield. On top of all of the successful accomplishments, one mountain stood in the way of LAFC — Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy.
LAFC opened with the game with tight defense despite the Galaxy getting a lot of second balls, however they were unable to capitalize off of those opportunities. Vela made sure his team had every chance to be victory as he scored two goals in the first half (16th and 41st minutes) to surprising and loud crowd. The Galaxy responded with a goal from Cristian Pavón just before halftime.
A the 55th minute Zlatan tied up the game on a left foot kick that kept the LAFC fans and supporters group 3252 on their heels. Diego Rossi scored lead goal in the 66th minute, and just two minutes later LAFC’s Adama Diomande scored the running goal on assist from Rossi that gave them the 4-2 lead.
LAFC remained poised as Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini found Rolf Feltscher that made it a one goal game in the 76th minute. LAFC’s energy and focus would not be denied as Diomande knocked in the nail in the coffin goal in the 80th minute to secure the win.
“In the playoffs it’s not a matter of what team you are playing against,” Vela said. “We need to win two more games.” LAFC’s goal the whole season is to win their first MLS Cup in franchise history.
This was the perfect test for Zlatan and the Galaxy who looked forward to playing LAFC in the playoffs just a week prior to defeating Minnesota.
“I want to play them in the playoffs,” Zlatan said. “And I want to play them here.”
The bigger question is will Zlatan continue to play in the MLS beyond this season?
“What happens next year? I don’t know. If I stay, it will be good for the MLS because the whole world will watch it. If I don’t stay, nobody will remember what MLS is.”
All eyes will now be on LAFC moving forward as they host the Seattle Sounders in the Conference Finals on October 29 at 7PM at Banc of California Stadium.
*On Thursday afternoon LAFC head coach Bob Bradley was named 2019 Sigi Schmidt Coach of the Year.