El Trafico III Ends in A Draw But LAFC Take A Step Towards Playoffs

LAFC had failed to beat their cross-town rivals LA Galaxy in the first two meetings of the new L.A. soccer rivalry dubbed El Trafico. The Galaxy came from behind on both occasions to get a win at StubHub Center (4-3) and salvage a draw at Banc of California Stadium (2-2). As far as wishful thinking goes, the expression “third time’s a charm” was a phrase that was heard a lot within LAFC fans in the build-up to the third episode of El Trafico.

The new MLS rivalry was finally going to live up to its name as LAFC and LA Galaxy were set to play on a Friday night at 7:30 pm in Carson, a city that is surrounded by some of the busiest freeways in southern California and at a time where traffic is heaviest. That did not stop fans from packing StubHub Center to its full capacity of 27,000. The stage was set for an incredible match of soccer in where both teams wanted the win by any means necessary.

LAFC rescued a point against the Galaxy on Friday night to snap a 2-game losing streak on the road but failed to win away from home for the fourth consecutive match. LAFC have not won a road game since June 9th, when they beat San Jose 4-3. In the previous two meetings between LAFC and the Galaxy, it was Carson that was losing at halftime and fought back to get a result. In this one, LAFC were the team down at the half but earned a 1-1 draw in the end.

The first half of the first half was all Galaxy. If it weren’t for Tyler Miller’s heroics, LAFC could have easily been down 3-0 at halftime. Miller made three goal-saving stops and even had a little help from his long, white skinny friend (the goal post) to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy attack.. However, Ibrahimovic did get a goal past Miller in the 15th minute for his 16th goal of the season to give his team a 1-0 lead.

After the goal, LAFC responded by attacking with the speedy, dribbling runs of Diego Rossi and the creativity of Carlos Vela. Rossi had two shots that went inches wide from the goal and Vela had two of his own that went right into the hands of Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham. LAFC forward Christian Ramirez did not have many chances to score as his one shot on goal proved his struggles continued for the second straight game.

In the 25th minute, defender Danilo Silva came off with an injury (hamstring tightness) and was replaced by DejanJakovic. The 33 year-old veteran played his best game of the season, was in great position to make defensive plays and locked down Ibrahimovic for the remainder of the match. Let’s hope that Silva’s injury is not serious and was simply subbed off for precautionary reasons.

For the second half, LAFC attacked the Galaxy from the get-go and their efforts were rewarded with a penalty kick only five minutes into the half. Galaxy midfielder Perry Kitchen brought down Carlos Vela in the box and it was the Mexican international himself who converted from the spot to tie the game 1-1.  Vela scored his fourth goal in El Trafico matches, is the only player to have scored in all three meetings and now leads the team in goals with nine.

LAFC had most of the scoring chances in the second half but failed to capitalize as shots from Rossi, Vela and Feilhaber were blocked by Bingham. In the 70th minute, LAFC had the winning goal in midfielder Benny Feilhaber when a through-ball from Atuesta left him in front of the goal with only the keeper to beat. Feilhaber tried to dribble around the goalie instead of finishing. That decision would allow Bingham to get a hand on it and push the ball away from danger.

LAFC gave it their all in the final minutes of the game and were close to scoring but in the end, the game resulted in a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately, LAFC have yet to beat the Galaxy and will have to wait until next season to face them again (unless they face each other in the playoffs, which is very likely).

On a very positive note, LAFC may have not won on the field but they sure did in the stands. With the Galaxy only making 100+ tickets available to the visiting team, over 2,000 fans made it to Carson to support LAFC and made sure to be the loudest in the stadium. In addition, LAFC fans cleaned up all the trash in their section in “protest” to the property damage Galaxy fans caused at Banc of California Stadium the game before. Talk about killing them with kindness.

With this result, LAFC are currently in 3rd place of the Western Conference and remain only three points behind 1st place. Also, the team is on a three-game unbeaten streak and look to extend that run to four when they travel to face Toronto FC next Saturday. LAFC will look to get a good result in this match before MLS goes on a two-week break due to FIFA international friendlies.

LAFC did not get the result they wanted against the Galaxy but we have to be optimistic and stay positive as fans. LAFC got a point on the road, continued to build team chemistry and took another step forward into making the playoffs. The team has improved as a whole after the mid-season slump and looks confident in their style of play. With only eight games remaining in the regular season, LAFC need to push harder than ever to get positive results.


-Benjamin Virgen

August 26, 2018

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