LOS ANGELES, Calif. (July 20,2019) – The newest chapter in the LA Derby was written last night. The fourth meeting between these clubs went the same way as the previous three, with LAFC coming away with more questions than answers. The biggest question of all, how do you overcome the Zlatan led LA Galaxy.
From kickoff, the match had all of the intensity of a rivalry match, and then some. LAFC had a brief glimmer of hope when they were awarded a penalty within the first five minutes. Captain, Carlos Vela, stepped up and calmly finished, becoming the fastest to reach 20 goals in a season. From there, it was all Zlatan and his haters wept.
On the biggest stage of the season, LAFC struggle to find success in rivalry match
Zlatan was in typical form throughout the week, making sure everyone knew it was he, and no one else, that was king of the MLS. Four minutes after the LAFC penalty, Zlatan not only put his team level, he did so in goal of the year fashion.
However, that was only the beginning as he would finish the night with a hat trick. A header in the 56th minute gave the Galaxy the lead, and a left-footed strike in the 70th to secure the win. Carlos Vela scored his second in stoppage time, but by then it was too late.
Galaxy’s group effort
While Zlatan may be receiving all the praise and admiration, it was in no way a one man effort. Precise passing, skilled touches, and chemistry of their own, helped in the Galaxy’s triumph over LAFC. Credit where it’s due, they first Zlatan goal was all him, from touch to strike, it was a masterpiece.
However, the two subsequent goals were the result of excellent buildup play. Whether it was finding plenty of space with tons of time, or incredible one touch passing, the Galaxy attack was on full display.
This was the biggest loss for LAFC this season. Not only were they outclassed by the Galaxy’s attack, the attack of their own was once again brought to a screeching halt. It may have been on the biggest stage of the season, but this was a culmination of performances for LAFC.
The last month has seen LAFC visibly struggle in the final third, unable to find the same rhythm and fluidity they had early in the year. With the warning signs showing up in matches against Colorado and Portland, this loss will surely lead to changes.
Work in progress
Make no mistake, beating the Galaxy is important, rivalry wins are always at the top of season goals. However, for LAFC, their judgement will come in the fall. As disappointing as the loss was, it’s another opportunity to grow as a team, and learn.
MLS Cup is the prize the LAFC have their sights set on, and in the end, this year is about the trophy. Beating your rival is always important, but holding the MLS Cup at the end of the season would feel even better. However, not achieving that goal, on top of losing to the in-county rivals, would feel like another disappointing season.
The look ahead
LAFC have to pick themselves up and prepare for another MLS superstar. The defending champions, Atlanta United, make their first competitive visit to The Banc. Led by Josef Martinez, who is now third in MLS scoring after the Zlatan hat-trick, Atlanta look to repeat last year’s rout.
In a lot of ways, these two teams are tied together, two expansion sides who have seen immediate success as well as growing support surrounding them. However, Atlanta currently defend what LAFC want, a championship. Sitting only three points from the top of the Eastern Conference, expect Atlanta to come out determined to get the win.
Given LAFC’s struggles in attack, they could be facing the reality of losing two straight for the first time. This is the beginning of the end, the road to a championship starts here, and if LAFC want the glory, the time to fix the issues is now.