LAFC Shutout L.A. Galaxy at The Banc

A collective calm swept over the LAFC faithful following Los Angeles Football Club's 2-0 clean sheet victory over rival L.A. Galaxy in El Trafico 10 at Banc of California Stadium on Sunday afternoon. For the first time since August 22, current league MVP Carlos Vela stepped onto the pitch for the Black and Gold in the second half. With familiar reliability and precision, he delivered the insurance goal to secure the much-needed win.

"It means a lot to everybody that Carlos not only gets back on the field after being out for a while, but then scores an excellent goal," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. "We're excited to get him back every day and purpose him and have him really finish the season in a great way."

LAFC's post-season quest was in doubt in early September as the Club uncharacteristically lost four of five matches following the MLS is Back Tournament that concluded in August. With a sense of urgency, the team has climbed back its way back into fourth place in the Western Conference by winning five of nine contests including one very important tie the previous Sunday at Portland. Three regular-season games remain before the Major League Soccer Playoffs begin in mid-November.

The first of the three will be at the Banc this Wednesday night hosting the Houston Dynamo, currently in tenth place but only three points out of the eighth and final Playoff spot. Houston busted out of the blocks with three wins and a tie through early September. Since, they have only won a single match, tied four and lost five. However, they were competitive in each and have played to a draw in the last two contests.

The Dynamo gave LAFC all it could handle the last time both clubs met in the MIB Tournament on July 13. Houston took a 3-1 halftime lead before forwards Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez rallied for a 3-3 tie with one goal each in the second half. Veteran forward Darwin Quintero, playing his first season with the Dynamo, leads the team in scoring with seven goals and nine assists in 19 matches.

Houston has also relied on a couple of 24-year old players this season. Midfielder Memo Rodriguez is also in good form lately, having scored a goal in each of the last two matches to give him five in his fifth season. Dynamo goalkeeper Marko Maric has three shutouts in his first year with the team and ranks second in the league with 66 total saves. Yet, Houston has allowed 33 goals this season, one fewer than LAFC goalies have conceded which ranks tied for the fifth worst in league.

LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega delivered his second shutout of the season against the Galaxy on Sunday. His first came in a 6-0 wipeout over the Vancouver Whitecaps on September 23, also at the Banc. Sisniega only had to save one shot on goal as the Galaxy, reduced to 10 players for the last 65 minutes of the match due to receiving a red card, played much of the match in a defensive mode.

Galaxy defender Giancarlo Gonzalez was given the boot in the 25th minute for denial of obvious goal-scoring opportunity, kicking Rossi's leg just before he entered the 18-yard penalty box. Rossi was originally awarded a penalty kick before a VAR ruling erased the decision. That was the first of three LAFC scoring reviews that marked the match. Despite outshooting the Galaxy 12-0, it was a scoreless first half.

LAFC forward Danny Musovski broke through in the 58th minute with a nice touch over goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann on an assist by Rossi after the Galaxy temporarily stopped playing expecting an out-of-bounds call on LAFC's goal line. Defender Diego Segura reacted quickly, passed to Rossi who relayed a long pass to Musovski just outside the Galaxy penalty box. 25 minutes later, Forward Bradley Wright-Phillips goal was overruled after a VAR review.

"We know what a game like this brings, always with a lot of intensity," said Segura. "I think the red card in the first half changed the rhythm as we were starting to impose our game. We took advantage of that decision and we were able to get a great result."

Vela, recovering from an MCL injury, made his much-anticipated return to the pitch in the 70th minute. He put a signature soft-touch over Klinsmann inside the box off an assist by Wright-Phillips in the third minute of stoppage time. It was Vela's third goal in three games this season. He set the MLS record for scoring last season with 34 goals and 15 assists in 31 matches.

The 3252 Supporters Union members gathered outside the Banc on the southeast corner of Figueroa and 39th Street celebrated the return of their Carlitos with plenty of noise and banner waving. In a classy gesture of appreciation and camaraderie, members of LAFC exited the stadium gate and thanked the die-hard fans from across the street following the win.

Musovski acknowledged the special relationship: "We appreciate that so much. That was so awesome to see something like that. There was so many of them and they were just cheering us and singing. That was a special moment for me and for the team to see that... they mean so much to this club and to see that, yeah, that was just a really special feeling."


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