LAFC blanked by arch-rival Galaxy

One step forward, one step back. For the second time in two weeks Los Angeles Football Club was blanked by arch-rival L.A. Galaxy. This time it was a 3-0 clean sheet by the Galaxy on a warm Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, they dominated the first half but came away empty-handed. The Galaxy capitalized on defensive lapses in the second half for the shutout.

The El Trafico 9 loss followed a return-to-form 5-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes last Wednesday. However, the Black and Gold have little time to contemplate the loss as they travel to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake this Wednesday, September 9 and then immediately return home to prepare for a clash with the Portland Timbers on Sunday night, September 13 at the Banc of California Stadium.

“In this stretch, the games come fast. In yesterday, some videos, hard looks at some situations versus the Galaxy,” said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley on Tuesday morning media call. “Today, turned the page quickly with some ideas about Salt Lake, making sure everybody’s ready to go again”

“It’s just not looking at one game, it’s looking at the cumulative load of a number of games in a short amount of time knowing that we turn it around again on Sunday.”

The RSL game is a re-scheduled match between the two clubs that are each looking to rebound from disappointing losses. Real Salt Lake took a 4-0 beating from Minnesota United following a couple of comeback ties in the previous two matches. LAFC has one win and three losses since Major League Soccer reconvened the season three weeks ago and is currently in seventh place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Salt Lake.

LAFC has a perfect 4-0 record versus RSL in regular season meetings, including a 2-0 win in August 2019 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. However, RSL did knock LAFC out of the MLS Playoffs, 3-2, in November 2018. LAFC has scored 21 goals in nine matches this season while yielding 19 goals compared to RSL’s 13 goals scored and 14 conceded.

Bradley will field a different lineup on Wednesday night due to midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye getting a red card early in the second half against the Galaxy. Defender Dejan Jakovic will likely move into the starting lineup with Latif Blessing switching to midfield against Real Salt Lake. Goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega will start his third consecutive match.

LAFC is still without forward Carlos Vela, still recovering from an MLS sprain, and midfielder Eduard Atuesta nursing a right foot injury. Bradley on Atuesta’s anticipated return: “He’s back into a little bit of training, not ready for this match but he’s making a lot of progress. It’s really good to see him on the field. We’ll see what that means in the latter part of the week before Portland.”

LAFC pummeled the Galaxy in the first half of El Trafico 9, outshooting them 14-1 while controlling the ball 65% of the time. Forwards Brian Rodriguez, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Diego Rossi led the barrage with four of the seven total shots on target, yet with no goals to show for their collective effort. In contrast, the Galaxy managed one shot not on goal and one corner kick.

Galaxy midfielder Christian Pavon turned the match upside-down in the 52nd minute. Defenders Tristan Blackmon and Blessing’s poor coverage of Pavon allowed him to lob a goal over Sisniega, who was too quick to come off his line. One minute later, Kaye is tossed from the field for a serious tackle on Galaxy midfielder Julian Araojo.

“It comes so quickly after we’ve gone down and it put our team in a bad decision,” said Bradley. “And Mark certainly understands that… He was late and it just ends up being the right idea to try to go in and win the ball but it’s the wrong way to go in. It’s a play that’s a red card, so that’s that and you’ve got to move on.”

Despite five player substitutions that followed by LAFC, the Galaxy exploited the one-player advantage for the last 37 minutes. Christian Lleget sealed the victory and the MLS Player of the Week award with two goals in the 73rd and 83rd minute of play. With the victory, the Galaxy now hold a two-win advantage over LAFC in the El Trafico derby history.

“We ask a lot of leadership from young guys. As a team, experience is good and bad on our shape moving forward. You must learn from mistakes. You must learn from tough losses,” said Bradley. “When we look at everything that’s happened in the first two-plus seasons, I think we clearly established some good ideas on how we want to play.”

“This year has been up and down. We’ve had some really good games but we’ve also had moments where on the day mistakes or moments where the intensity wasn’t high enough have hurt us. So, we continue to grow as a team. We’re not satisfied the way things are going.”


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