(East Los Angeles. CA) August 24, 2020 [From The Editor’s Desk]: Major League Soccer finally came back to Los Angeles on August 22nd, but it wasn’t the return to their home field of the Banc of California that the LAFC were expecting. First of all, NO fans were admitted to cheer and root their team on. And, there was also no Grupo 3252 in its regular seating location. However, the fan enthusiasm was still very vibrant and active here in the City, marking the highly-awaited return of the MLS regular season. Head Coach, Bob Bradley, was certainly thinking about how his line-up would fare with the return of its superstar, Carlos Vela, along with Jonathan Dos Santos, who both missed the MLS Is Back Tournament. Read how our, Correspondent, Javi Pérez, sized up the match in this Western Conference classic battle. To view the match highlights of the game, click here.
Match Recap By: Javi Pérez: After a disappointing MLS Is Back tournament run from both Angeleno clubs, their first regular MLS match was yet another showcase of the growing “El Tráfico” rivalry. The Banc of California Stadium was the host of the derby on a classic, and very hot, City of the Angels summer afternoon. The Galaxy were seeking to reclaim the mythical winners’ throne after an embarrassing (6-2) defeat in Orlando to their rivals, the LAFC.
Photo Gallery Credit: Major League Soccer @MLS; L.A. Galaxy & LAFC; Adam Serrano @AdamSerrano
The visiting Galaxy came in with a 4-2-3-1 lineup with David Bingham at goal along with Nick Depuy and Daniel Steres as center backs accompanied by Emiliano Insua and Rolf Feltscher as fullbacks. Joe Corona and Perry Kitchen came in as a defensive midfield duo while Cristian Pavon, Sebastian Lletget and Julian Araujo were up on the attacking front, accompanying lone striker Ethan Zubak. Superstar, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was still unavailable due to his calf injury suffered in the MLS Is Back tournament.
LAFC greatly welcomed the return of their superstar, Carlos Vela as they lined up in a classic 4-3-3. Kenneth Vermeer was on goal with Dejan Jakovic and Eddie Segura along with Tristan Blackmon and Diego Palacios on defense. Latif Blessing, Francisco Ginella, and Mark-Anthony Kaye occupied the midfield while Brian Rodriguez, Carlos Vela, and Diego Rossi went on the attacking front.
The first half started with a back-and-forth rhythm as both teams wanted to open the scoring early. The Galaxy got off to a better start, especially compared to their game in Orlando. Their persistence paid off after Julian Araujo sent a center-pass that Ethan Zubak snagged with a header into the bottom left corner of the net. Now, the Galaxy led (1-0). Both teams were still looking to net more goals, with the Galaxy anxious to extend their lead, and LAFC desperately trying to catch up before the whistle for halftime blew. However, the Galaxy’s defense held their own against one of the best attacking trios in the MLS and the teams went into the locker room with the score reading (1-0).
As the second half kicked-off, LAFC Coach Bob Bradley made a quick player substitution for his Uruguayan forward Brian Rodriguez. Inserted for him was English veteran, Bradley Wright-Phillips, with the probable strategy of creating a more diverse attack. However, the Galaxy, playing a master class of a game, seemed to have learned from their mistakes at Orlando, and continued to outplay their rival in their own stadium. Eventually, the LAFC defense crumbled as Sebastian Lletget nicely tucked in a ground-cross by none other than Julian Araujo, who up to this point had (2) assists and was playing possibly his best game of the year. LAFC continued to frantically create a goal, but unfortunately, Carlos Vela went down with an injury and things started to look dim for a tired and dazed LAFC, who up to this match of “El Tráfico” had been dominated by the Galaxy. With the final whistle sounding, the Galaxy celebrated as they won their first game, with the return of MLS’ 25th Anniversary of its regular season. It also marked their first win in the Banc of California Stadium.
Next Matches: In another show of continued solidarity of Black Lives Matter, the MLS Black Players Association and the Galaxy voted to boycott their scheduled home field match against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, August 26th, while the LAFC also voted to stand down from traveling to Real Salt Lake, also on Wednesday. Both matches will be made-up later in the schedule.
Match Updates: The Galaxy resumed play against the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday and captured another badly needed win by the score of (3-2). It was their first home match at Dignity Health Sports Park since COVID-19. A full game summary is forthcoming. The LAFC traveled to the Emerald City on Sunday and took to the pitch against the Seattle Sounders. They dropped their second in a row by the final score of (3-1). It marked the first time they’ve lost consecutive matches since 2018.
About Our Correspondent: Javier Pérez is a Film, TV and Media Major with a Minor in Photography at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. He is a 2018 graduate of Marquez High School, located in Huntington Park, CA, and earned varsity letters in both Football and Soccer. Javier is now going into his Junior year at CSUDH.