The LA Galaxy went down two goals in the first half, conceded an own goal on top of that, but still managed to claw back to draw Minnesota United 3-3 at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday.
But it wasn’t enough, as Real Salt Lake scored in stoppage time against Sporting Kansas City, knocking LA out of the final playoff spot on Decision Day, meaning the Galaxy will go without postseason soccer for the second season in a row. Given that LA thought they were making the playoffs until stoppage time of their game, it was an absolute gut punch.
Oniel Fisher started at left back again for the Galaxy, but Greg Vanney fielded pretty close to a first-choice XI with the pieces available, Samuel Grandsir maintaining his change-of-pace substitute role.
The game started a bit sluggish, as both teams sought to remain patient and traded bouts of possession with little attacking intent in the final third.
Minnesota looked to take the lead in the 22nd minute, as Adrien Hunou slotted home the shot on the counterattack. The goal was called back for offside, but it was reviewed on VAR and overturned, with the Loons taking the first-half lead.
After video review, the @MNUFC goal stands as they take the lead on the road in LA.#LAvMIN // #DecisionDay pic.twitter.com/Mz95sd7fjn— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 7, 2021
Kévin Cabral had a beautiful shot in the 33rd minute, with a scissored attempt out of the air, but he forced Minnesota goalkeeper Tyler Miller into a sharp save to keep the Galaxy off the board at that point.
NEARLY THE EQUALIZER!— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) November 7, 2021
Kevin Cabral with a clever piece of skill that is denied by Minnesota pic.twitter.com/1yYXcPoknq
That play was pivotal, as the Loons went down to the other end, and less than two minutes later, scored an insurance tally off a corner kick, courtesy of Robin Lod.
Lod save the Queen.— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 8, 2021
We're up 2-0 in LA. pic.twitter.com/JiBXVxhXvA
With the Galaxy flirting with falling out of the playoff places for good at the worst possible time, Vanney didn’t waste time, making a first-half substitute, with the attack-minded Niko Hämäläinen replacing Fisher at left back in the 39th minute.
The Galaxy got a lifeline in first-half stoppage time, as Minnesota’s defense basically fell asleep on a counterattack and a nice ball on the deck from Cabral trickled through to Sebastian Lletget, who scored at the far post to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
NO QUIT IN THIS TEAM.@SLletget pulls us within one goal of Minnesota pic.twitter.com/C2EiWESXA1— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) November 8, 2021
LA pushed for another chance immediately after, but the teams went into the break with the Galaxy trailing by a goal with 45 minutes left in the regular season. At that point, however, LA’s playoff slot was still in play due to results elsewhere.
In the second half, the home side picked up where they left off, and Chicharito got a goal in the 51st minute to tie the game at 2-2, the Mexican blasting home Julian Araujo’s cross to bring the game level.
¡ZAPATAZO DE CHICHARITO !— MLS Español (@MLSes) November 8, 2021
¡@CH14_ marca su gol 16 de la temporada para empatar el partido! #VamosGalaxy #DecisionDay #LAvMIN | 2-2 pic.twitter.com/7J9tyHEegG
As the Galaxy tried to push for a go-ahead goal, catastrophe struck at the other end, as an Araujo own goal finished up a Loons counterattack where LA’s defense was absolutely stretched.
like Kevin and the chilli. pic.twitter.com/9SZ6r8klkl— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) November 8, 2021
But the Galaxy dug deep and kept fighting, with Chicharito getting his second goal on his second try, in acrobatic fashion, in the 75th minute.
CHICHA AGAIN— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 8, 2021
His 17th on the year to equalize again! Chaos.#LAvMIN // #DecisionDay pic.twitter.com/R4XB9G4E0q
Still, at that point the Galaxy were holding onto their playoff spot by their fingernails, as the minutes ticked down.
It got worse, as Franco Frangapane drew a penalty from Derrick Williams in the dying minutes of the game. A penalty was called for Minnesota, but Frangapane’s attempt clanged off the post, a stroke of luck to seemingly help the Galaxy’s cause.
But as the Galaxy tried to pick their spots and defend well to close out the draw, they found out RSL had taken the very late lead and their season was hanging in the balance. In spite of pushing up for a go-ahead goal, they couldn’t find paydirt and the season came to a crashing halt, just like that.
Make no mistake, this was a wild game and both teams showed plenty of warts on the day. For the partisans, it was a heart-stopping 90 minutes, and ultimately they came up short. The Galaxy have been burned by Decision Day heartbreak before at home, and it happened again in 2021, in absolutely shocking fashion.
What a horrible ending to the season, in spite of the growth the team seemed to show this year. What a disappointment.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.