Upstart Los Angeles Football Club and the Los Angeles Galaxy played their second-ever derby on Thursday night. The first match was an all-time classic, featuring a three-goal, second-half Galaxy comeback capped off by two Zlatan Ibrahimović goals, the first perhaps the best MLS goal to date, to give his squad the 4-3 victory in stoppage time. The second game tried its best to follow suit.
Thursday’s back-and-forth affair ended with the same thematic arc as the first, with similar drama throughout—LAFC got out to a huge initial lead, then the Galaxy clawed their way back.
LAFC dominated the first half, commanding midfield possession and holding strong on defense, preventing the Galaxy offense from establishing its width. Carlos Vela, starter for the Mexican national team and $5.87 million offseason transfer, opened up the scoring in the seventh minute, serving as pest in the middle, nearly knocking one cross in from the left wing before promptly receiving another from the right:
Mark-Anthony Kaye went down with a brutal ankle fracture on a clip just outside the box in the 20th minute, igniting the crowd at LAFC’s home stadium and causing a minor commotion as Kaye was helped off. On the ensuing free kick, Lee Nguyen hit a lovely strike, lifting it above the wall and just wide of the outstretched arms of Galaxy keeper David Bingham, doubling LAFC’s lead.
The game continued with LAFC the better side until about the 68th minute—when the Galaxy finally notched their first shot on goal—but the wheels started to come off as the game winded down. LAFC tired down the stretch, coming away from great chances with nothing to show for it, including one opportunity that saw Adama Diomande hit the post, then, with an open net, strike a Galaxy defender, the ball deflecting out for a corner.
The Galaxy got their goal back in the 81st minute after several minutes of consistent attack. The goal was facilitated by an Ibrahimovic run on the wing and some pretty awful LAFC defense:
On the Galaxy’s very next possession, Ibra got the ball in the box and had just the keeper to beat, but he gave it up to teammate Ola Kamara, who fired it right into the diving arms of LAFC keeper Tyler Miller at point blank range:
Then, in the 85th minute, LAFC’s defense was the culprit again. This time, the blame fell on Andre Horta, a 21-year-old Benfica signee making his MLS debut:
Horta tried to make up for it later on with a booming strike with his left foot from about 25 yards away, but the post was on the Galaxy’s side last night:
Any game that features two horrendous, goal-inducing misplays can’t be called a well-played game, but that doesn’t mean a wild game like this one isn’t fun to watch. Nobody comes to an MLS match expecting to see exacting, technical soccer in the first place, and the league could do worse than to have its newest rivalry be known for producing goal-heavy, cockeyed games like the one we saw last night.