For the third time in this short rivalry, LAFC and the LA Galaxy were unable to find the difference between each other on the pitch. The two sides drew 3-3 in a dizzying and hectic affair at the Banc of California Stadium.
“You’re winning 3-1,” Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored twice on Sunday, said after the match. “I think you should hold the result.”
Before the start of the match, the Galaxy had an opportunity to leapfrog into second, ahead of Real Salt Lake.
But now, as things stand, LA currently sit in fourth. LAFC, meanwhile, remain at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings and have a 14-point gap ahead of the Philadelphia Union.
Wild first half produces five goals
Ibrahimovic scored the fastest goal in the derby, notching the opening goal 1 minute and 47 seconds into the proceedings.
But it was the work of Cristian Pavon and Jorgen Skjelvik that ignited the move. The Argentinian continued forward, racing between Mark-Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta, before sending Ibrahimovic in behind the LAFC defense. Then, Ibrahimovic did the rest, beating Tyler Miller at the near post.
“They kind of played into our hands the first 15-20 minute,” Bingham told media.
“It’s like they wanted to score a goal in the first minute of the game, and once we got the ball we just flew past them and scored.”
David Bingham, who leads Major League Soccer in saves, produced his first of the night seven minutes into the match. Carlos Vela was wide open inside the area and curled a left-footed effort towards the far post. But Bingham dove full stretch and made the stop.
But ten minutes after the Galaxy goal, LAFC started to settle down, and Latif Blessing leveled the match at one.
Steven Beitashour raced to the byline before he floated a cross back towards the far post. From there, Diego Rossi headed the ball goalwards, where David Bingham came off his line. Bingham could not get his hands on the ball and Blessing nestled it into the net.
The Galaxy hit back immediately afterward, retaking the lead once again through Ibrahimovic. Favio Alvarez lifted a pass over the top of the LAFC defense. The Swedish striker brought the ball down expertly and danced around Miller before sliding it into the empty net.
A minute later, Cristian Pavon notched his first Galaxy goal, which also doubled their advantage. Alvarez released his fellow countryman out wide. Pavon continued his run into the box, created space between himself and Walker Zimmerman before placing the ball into the bottom left corner.
In the 36th minute, Vela sent a dangerous low cross through the middle. Bingham dove low to try and intercept it but missed. Adama Diomaned was making a run but fired his shot into the stands.
With two minutes to go until halftime, Blessing notched his second goal of the half. Vela’s initial shot was blocked but it fell perfectly for Blessing, who rounded Bingham before passing the ball into the net.
Vela levels the match at three
The LAFC captain finally got on the score sheet after the restart. Mark-Anthony Kaye and Vela combined near the top of the box, before the latter found space inside the area. Vela beat Bingham, firing low into the far corner.
That would be one of Vela’s final actions in the match, as he was substituted off in the 60th minute with a mild right hamstring issue.
“Obviously, he’s a huge competitor,” Bob Bradley said on Vela’s injury.
“So he’s not too happy when he comes off but we’re not going to take a bigger risk and leave him out there when we know by the reaction that he’s now felt a little something.
That’s how that decision was made.”
He was replaced by the 19-year-old Brian Rodriguez, who made his LAFC debut.
LAFC started to pile on the pressure late into the night. Diego Rossi found a way into the box after the Galaxy could not clear a corner completely. The Uruguayan tried to beat Bingham at the near post, but could not find a way through.
Pavon tried to get his second goal of the night when he showcased some skill down the left. But he tried to chip Miller from 30-yards out and could not get the angle down right.
Then, deep into stoppage time, Ibrahimovic nearly got his hat trick when he brought the ball down from a free-kick. He turned and fired a shot inches wide of goal.
Both sides have important matches coming up next weekend.
The LA Galaxy travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff for this match is scheduled for 3:30 PM.
LAFC, meanwhile, continue their homestand, as they play hosts to Minnesota United FC, who are in the thick of the playoff race. This match is set to get going at 7:30 PM.