It was yet another El Trafico that was great for the neutrals, less so for the partisans, but after trading blows with LAFC for 90-plus minutes, the LA Galaxy lost 3-2 on Thursday in the Western Conference semifinals at Banc of California Stadium.
The Galaxy came back twice, and certainly played better than their crosstown rivals for large stretches of the match, but a late winner was not enough to overcome a third time, and LA’s season has ended in dramatic fashion.
Greg Vanney used the same XI to start as in the last game, with Douglas Costa and Samuel Grandsir flanking Chicharito up top.
The opening 10 minutes were tight as both teams felt out the game, and it wasn’t too feisty until the 11th minute, as Riqui Puig went down in LAFC’s box pretty easily, before stepping up to Jesus David Murillo with head-to-head contact, albeit with no force behind it. The midfielder picked up a yellow card after all that and had to be careful for the rest of the match.
That helped the Galaxy get more purchase on the game, however, and after a counterattack, Chicharito sent a cross into the box and after deflecting back to him, Grandsir’s angled shot clanged off the crossbar in the 18th minute, the first good chance of the match on either side.
But LAFC got control back of the game and they drew first blood, with Carlos Vela setting up Denis Bouanga to make it 1-0 in the 23rd minute.
The Galaxy battled for an equalizer and found it in the 44th minute, as Grandsir latched onto a poor clearance from Bouanga and smashed it into the net to tie up the game 1-1.
It looked like LAFC drew a penalty in stoppage time, but the foul by Raheem Edwards on Carlos Vela was then judged to be outside the box. However, it looked like Vela dived on the play, so Edwards’ yellow card was pretty harsh. After a tame free kick, the teams went into the locker room deadlocked at the break.
The Galaxy started the 2nd half the sharper side, even though they got away with an early chance on the other end sailing wide of the mark. But it was a battle on both ends, and the first change of the game for LA came in the 58th minute, as Kevin Cabral entered for Costa.
Grandsir then made way for Victor Vazquez in the 68th minute, as the game remained chippy and tight. Vela came out of the game with just under 15 minutes to play in regulation, which seemed like it would be a boon for the Galaxy, as the teams remained tied.
But the opposite happened, as Bouanga scored his second of the night in the 78th minute to give LAFC the 2-1 lead.
In response, Vanney brought on Dejan Joveljić for Delgado and Derrick Williams in place of Martin Caceres. It worked, as Joveljić scored a blast in the 85th minute to make it 2-2 and bring the game level again.
But with six minutes of stoppage time, LAFC got the final blow, as Cristian Arango tapped in the shot off a corner kick in the 93rd minute off Jonathan Bond’s initial save.
The final minutes were still wild and crazy, but the Galaxy couldn’t get a clean look as they launched ball after ball towards the box, and their time on the 2022 season ran out.
It was another remarkable game, and the Galaxy should not be at all disappointed in the effort they put in on the night. Again, they were the better team for large stretches of the game, and frankly had a good case to at least take the game to another 30 minutes and see if they could press for a winner. But it wasn’t meant to be, and coming against LAFC, it’s especially bitter.
We’ll have plenty more coverage on this game and the season that was from LA coming, but for now, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2023, as hard as that is to say.
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