CARSON, CA (May 6, 2017) – It was a tale of two halves. The Chicago Fire came out on fire in the first half in Los Angeles. Nemanja Nikolic had a goal and a PK in the first half. The LA Galaxy responded in the second half with two goals off set pieces. Ultimately, the match ended 2-2.
Galaxy Head Coach Curt Onalfo was able to make some changes from last game. Gyasi Zardes was healthy. He started at right midfield in a 4-2-3-1. Bradley Diallo started again at right back. Romain Alessandrini moved over to left midfield.
Fire Head Coach Velijko Paunovic made a few small changes. The midfield was the same with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juninho, and Dax McCarty. Drew Connor started at right back in a 4-2-3-1. Matt Lampson started in goal.
LA Galaxy Get Dramatic Draw Off Set Piece Goals Against Chicago Fire 2-2
The first half started out all Chicago Fire. In the 11th minute, the Galaxy had a defensive break down in the box. Jelle Van Damme went to intercept the ball from Nemanja Nikolic, but tripped up the striker in the process. A PK was called.
David Accam converted the second try after the first was called for encroachment.
The Fire continued to rely on transition play, not letting the struggling Galaxy attack break them down. They would double their advantage in the 16th minute. McCarty got the ball moving to Accam who blew by the Galaxy defense. He sent a through pass to Nikolic, who went in on goal and beat Goalkeeper Brian Rowe.
The Galaxy ended the half on a rough spot. Captain Jelle Van Damme was subbed out in the 33rd minute. While there was some discussion wit the training staff after the sub, it appeared the substitution was entirely tactical. Just before half time, Jermaine Jones was subbed out. He had taken a deflected ball to the face minutes later and was too shaken up to continue. The half ended 2-0.
Los Angeles gained some momentum in the second half. Daniel Steres pulled one back on a header off a corner in the 56th minute. That started several waves of attack by the Galaxy. Ramain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, and Emmanuel Boateng all got chances.
The StubHub Center came alive in the 65th minute. Struggling dos Santos got on the end of a corner headed by Dave Romney. Alessandrini had assists on both goals, taking the corners.
Both teams pushed for a winner. Gyasi Zardes had a header chance late in the game, but it went into the side netting. Nikolic put a ball in the net in stoppage time, but he was called off sides. The match ended 2-2.
This has to be bitter sweet for both sides. The Fire blew a lead, but got a rare road point. Nikolic continues to be a machine on offense. Paunovic will definitely have the team working on set piece defending in training next week.
For the Galaxy, this has to feel like progress on some level. They scored at home. Giovani dos Santos scored, and not on a PK. Alessandrini and Boateng were both dynamic. Jones came off injured is a concern. It’s still unclear if Van Damme is hurt. If not, subbing off the Captain could make things interesting in the locker room. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Fire are at home next Saturday against the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy travel to play the New York Red Bulls next Saturday.