The first series of the LA derby wrapped up on Friday night at the StubHub Center with the LA Galaxy and LAFC drawing 1-1. While there was not as much drama tonight compared to the previous two chapters, this third chapter still had plenty of talking points.
“I thought the first half was really good for us. It’s unfortunate to give away the penalty,” Sigi Schmid said afterwards.
“They were around the goal for sure a little bit. The second half they had some chances but we had some chances at the other end.
“But in terms of effort and the quality of desire they showed after last week’s game was pleasing.”
It was important for the Galaxy to get this point, even though they remain in the fifth spot for the time being, because this is the first match since July 7th against the Columbus Crew, where they did not give up two or more goals.
LAFC made just one very interesting change to their starting lineup for this final rivalry match of the season. Laurent Ciman was left off the roster completely, as Walker Zimmerman took his spot.
There is speculation that clubs are after the native Belgian and was not fully focused in preparation for this all-important match. Though, according to LAFC’s PR representatives, Bob Bradley knew all along that he would be starting Zimmerman instead of Ciman, as he had been performing well when these two sides have met
For those that still have Laurent Ciman questions, I was just told by @LAFC PR that his absence from the bench was simply Bob Bradley’s decision. He wanted Silva and Zimmerman in the line-up, nothing else to it. Again, in refernece to my last tweet, Ciman is not hurt. #LAvLAFC— Delmy Barillas (@DelmyBarillas) August 25, 2018
The Galaxy head coach, meanwhile, made a couple of key changes to his formation. Yes, a large portion of their attacking talent – Giovani Dos Santos, Jonathan Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini – was still missing. However, getting Zlatan Ibrahimovic back, and partnered up top with Ola Kamara, certainly played a key role.
Next, Chris Pontius occupied the right wingback position, while Rolf Feltscher played as the right center back. Finally, Schmid flip-flopped Ashley Cole and Dave Romney, who both retained their more natural positions on the left side.
Being back in their normal roles helped make the Galaxy more intense on the defensive side of the ball. It showed too, as they picked up five yellow cards throughout the course of the 90 minutes.
“We’ve been talking about it all week and I think we needed to do that,” Schmid elaborated on the increase in physicality after the draw.
“And some guys stood up in terms of that because I think at times we’ve just been too soft and we haven’t used our strength.
But Rolf (Feltscher) helps us because he’s a little more physical out there. I thought Jorgen (Skjelvik) played more physically today. Dave Romney played more physically today, as well.
“And midfield, I think our challenges – we got tighter to people – and we were there. I mean obviously, Jair Marrufo let’s a very physical game play anyway, so that was something we talked about as well.”
Galaxy Sharp Early On
After the Galaxy’s five goal debacle in Seattle, defense was surely a focal point for Schmid and the staff during training this past week. And it paid off early on, with the Galaxy not conceding a goal inside ten minutes for the first time against LAFC.
The main concern during this time frame, however, was the health of Kamara. Off of a corner kick in the fourth minute, the Norwegian and Zimmerman knocked heads, which left Kamara on the ground. He received treatment on the sideline for what appeared to be a cut on his head which caused bleeding through his shirt, and after a quick change, proceeded to make an impact the rest of the match.
Ibrahimovic looked hungry in and around the penalty to start. Only 12 minutes had elapsed before the veteran striker forced Tyler Miller into action, who stopped a stinging shot.
Three minutes later, the Swede got the Galaxy in front in what was a perfect start for a club on the wrong end of a win-less streak.
After bringing a pass down off his chest, Zlatan poked the ball down and poked it goal-ward. Danilo Silva raced towards the line to clear it away from goal, even though it looked as if the entirety of the ball had gone into the net. Referee Jair Marrufo went to review the video and decided to award Ibrahimovic’s 499th career goal in the end.
Things on the defensive end for LAFC got a little tougher only 27 minutes into the contest. Silva, who they signed just a couple of weeks ago, limped off after sustaining a leg injury earlier in the match. A loss that haunted LAFC as he was part of the reason why Bradley decided to sit out Ciman.
The Galaxy’s number nine forced Miller to make another save 31 minutes into the contest. Cole played a sweet pass to Ibrahimovic, but aimed his shot straight into the midriff of the LAFC goalkeeper.
LAFC Strike Back from the Spot
Six minutes after the halftime break, Perry Kitchen gave LAFC a lifeline. He went down on a sliding challenge and clipped Carlos Vela’s leg inside the area. Marrufo made no hesitation and pointed to the spot immediately.
Vela was sharp from 12 yards away. He waited for David Bingham to go one way before placing his penalty in the other direction.
Benny Feilhaber gave LAFC one last chance with 15 minutes remaining. He had slipped in behind the Galaxy defense and was one on one with Bingham. Feilhaber, though, took one too many touches before the former Earthquake goalkeeper slapped the ball away from danger.
When all was said and done, a draw was probably the correct outcome in this match. Both teams played well in stretches and had opportunities to break the match wide open.
“To come away with a point, fair enough. Do I think it’s our best football,” Bradley asked. “No.”
However, the Galaxy wanted all three points and to give up a lead once more will certainly be disappointing.
“I would say if the game was difficult, I would say it. If the game was impossible I would say it,” Ibrahimovic told media after.
“But the game was easy. We were much better than them until the final part of the field, where we should have destroyed them but we didn’t.”
Both sides get a deserved week off after their taxing match. LAFC will travel to the north to take on Toronto FC at BMO Field. Their test will kick off at 5:00 PM.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy take on Real Salt Lake in Salt Lake City next Saturday as well, with the match set to start at 7:00 PM.