Two teams with two paths heading towards a singular destiny – to the top of their conference and a heated battle for LA’s soccer soul. LA Galaxy began the season reposed while rebuilding, recovering and is now resurging. LAFC started the season ravenously scoring on enemies, but their resolve to retain control has begun to rust. Both managed to win last night with the same 2-0 final score. Both stadiums were reportedly sold-out, each filled with fans providing evidence that Los Angeles MLS fanbase can support two teams.
But there were differences. While LAFC remains undefeated (6-0-1), only 2 of 22 shots made it into FC Cincinnati’s net. The newest MLS expansion team had a mere 7 LAFC needed to deter. Throughout the second half, FC Cincinnati pushed for the equalizer and kept LAFC’s offensive onslaught mostly quiet, until Carlos Vela’s 93rd-minute goal. Carlos Vela, hailed as MLS MVP of March, has now claimed five goals and three assists in the last three games. Before last night, LAFC had averaged 3.2 goals per game. It’s a takeaway Cincinnati can be proud of. By contrast, “I don’t think we were as sharp as we would like,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said last night.
LA Galaxy (5-1-0) on the other hand, had 11 shots and their opponent, Philadelphia Union, had 11 of their own. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, hot on Vela’s trail, has netted 5 goals (and 1 assist) in the last 3 games. Post-game he remarked, “I try to help the team in the best way and that is to score goals.” LA Galaxy now sit at third place in the conference. If the soccer gods have their say, things are lining up for a thrilling first edition of the 2019 El Tráfico this July.
LAFC part-owner and USWNT legend Mia Hamm once said, “it is more difficult to stay on top than it is to get there.” Their league-high 21 goals belies doubts in quality of offense over quantity. LAFC has a grueling week ahead with two more matches in sight, the first in Vancouver, the next against Seattle. LA Galaxy, meanwhile, have one and it’s in home at Dignity Health Sports Park. They just won their fourth in a row and take second straight clean sheet. Things are looking up for LA Galaxy as they continue to look upwards, while LAFC’s view from the top is beginning to feel crowded.
featured image: April 13, 2019 LAFC v FC Cincinnati; Kaye celebrates his second goal of 2019 Photo credit – Imad Bolotok