Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

LAFC Routs Galaxy - Equalizes El Trafico Derby

 

El Trafico 7 did not disappoint... certainly not Los Angeles Football Club as they turned a 2-2 halftime struggle into a 6-2 rout over rival L.A. Galaxy on Saturday, July 18. LAFC secured three points in the Group F match and a spot in the Round of 16 stage in the MLS is Back Tournament taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, near Orlando, Florida.

It was forward Diego Rossi who spearheaded LAFC's second consecutive dominant win over the Galaxy with four goals and one assist. The overall record between the two L.A. clubs is now even: each with two wins, two losses and three ties. Initially appearing snake-bitten by the Galaxy through the first five matches between the clubs, LAFC has left little doubt as to which is currently the best team in Los Angeles.

"Great win for us. First half was very hard. Galaxy clogged the middle very tight, very intense. We did a poor job finding space. Too slow with the ball, passing wasn't sharp," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "Our second goal was the start of better football...That continued in the second half. It's the second game in a row where I think the guys who came on as reserves did an excellent job."

LAFC has one match remaining with the Portland Timber, leading Group F with 6 points, before advancing to the next stage. The Thursday night match will be a challenge according to Bradley: "We always try to be a team that steps on the field with the mentality to go for three points and to win. And it will be no different against Portland."

"I think Gio (Timber head coach Giovanni Savarese) and his staff are always looking to push their team in a good way. They're always a difficult opponent. I think you see some of the normal starting points, the play of (Sebastian) Blanco, (Diego) Valeri scored a really good goal and the continued development of (Jeremy) Ebobisse.

On Saturday, LAFC started off on the wrong foot when midfielder Latif Blessing scored an own-goal on a deflected pass in the 5th minute to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead. Diego Rossi tied the score in the 13th minute on a penalty kick. Galaxy forward Christian Pavon returned the favor in the 31st minute with converted penalty kick.

However, it was Rossi's rebound put-away in stoppage time off Bradley Wright-Phillips' blocked shot just before the first half ended that changed the complexion of the game. The equalizer completely wiped out any goodwill and momentum the Galaxy had built up in the first 46 minutes of action.

Even without team leader and current league MVP Carlos Vela, the LAFC offensive juggernaut exploded in the second half with four goals. Wright-Phillips gave the Black and Gold the permanent lead in the 56th minute. This reversal of fortune came two minutes after Pavon's apparent go-ahead goal for the Galaxy was waved off due to an offside flag.

LAFC scored three more goals in the final 17 minutes as Rossi put away two more while Mohamed El-Munir, who substituted for Wright-Phillips in the 71st minute, nailed a left footed power blast into the back of the net in the 80th minute from outside the box. Bradley's role players coming off the bench have performed outstandingly in both tournament matches.

The substitutions have also allowed Bradley to use Blessing's versatility and his bench to create problems for the Galaxy: "When Latif goes to right back it gives us a little different dimension, especially against a team that's organized and really fighting that hard Because Latif has different ways to find spaces. I thought Tristan (Blackmon) adjusted well in the center."

Blessing: "Everybody's ready, especially those from the bench. They put them in, their hard work and their good passes. You can see everybody's ready to play. So, LAFC, when you come here, is like a family.

Pablo Sisniega tended goal against the Galaxy after Kenneth Vermeer had started against the Houston Dynamo in the opening match of the tournament. Sisniega showed solid play, as the Galaxy only scored on an own goal and then on a penalty shot. Sisniega actually blocked Pavon's first penalty kick attempt in the 31st minute but was ruled to have moved from his position before Pavon struck the shot.

There is now real competition concerning LAFC's goalkeeper that can only help improve the overall team defense. Vermeer gave up three goals against the Dynamo in Game 1. Bradley: "Pablo has played well in training and we continue to feel good about the way he is progressing as a goalkeeper. Kenneth has great experience."

"We know that whenever a player comes to a new team, there's also a period of time where that player, that keeper, has to get used to the way we are playing. So, there's good competition and both goalkeepers in training pushing each other really hard and also trying to help Phillip (Ejimadu)."

As for the team's physical health, forward Adama "Dio" Diomande was sent back to Los Angeles to get further testing on his right foot, and injury sustained in last week's Dynamo match. "And so, he has left the bubble, headed back to Los Angeles where he can get the scans and where we can get a better idea of what is continuing to bother him with his right foot," reported Bradley.

Regardless, LAFC will be ready for Thursday's Timber match and the rest of the tournament according to Blessing: "Portland is a good team. They've played two matches and won all their games... We are ready to meet them. We know this game is going to be like a fight. We are here to make our fans happy. So, we are here to take the trophy to L.A."

 

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