Galaxy rally from late two-goal deficit for 2-2 draw with LAFC
Los Angeles Football Club defender Walker Zimmerman, right, battles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic for control of the ball in the first half at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Football Club fans celebrate forward Carlos Vela’s goal past Galaxy keeper David Bingham in the first half at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Galaxy midfielder Romain Alessandrini, left, and forward Giovani dos Santos, right, battle Los Angeles Football Club midfielder Eduard Atuesta for control of the ball.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Football Club fans rally before a game with the L.A. Galaxy at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Galaxy midfielder Romain Alessandrini, left, battles Los Angeles Football Club midfielder Eduard Atuesta in the first half of a game in Los Angeles.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Football Club defender Dejan Jaković, left, and Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic high kick while battling for the ball.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Football Club defender Steven Beitashour greets fans after tying a game 2-2 with the L.A. Galaxy at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Four months into their nascent intracity rivalry, a pattern has already developed between the Galaxy and the Los Angeles Football Club: It’s not a game you’re going to want to leave early.
On Thursday the Galaxy, listless for most of the night, scored twice in the final eight minutes to steal a 2-2 draw before a sold-out Banc of California Stadium. When the teams first met in March, the Galaxy scored four times in the final half-hour to turn a three-goal deficit into a 4-3 win.
That makes two games, two frantic Galaxy comebacks and the start of a cross-town feud that is already beginning to blossom into one of the most intense in MLS.
“Sometimes games just go that way,” said Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid, who seemed as surprised as anyone. “Sometimes things just happen.”
LAFC coach Bob Bradley saw it differently.
“Yeah, I’m in a bad mood,” he said. “We do a lot of good things. But what we still haven’t been able to get right is when there’s a game and … it’s spinning out control, that there’s a couple of players on the field who have the composure and the intelligence to just make sure that we get it right.
“That’s the part that we still must get to get to the next level.”
LAFC’s goals came from Carlos Vela and Lee Nguyen, both in the first half. The Galaxy matched that when Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up a Romain Alessandrini goal in the 82nd minute to make it 2-1 before Ola Kamara tied it four minutes later, running onto a horrible backpass from LAFC’s Andre Horta and turning the mistake into a breakaway goal.
For the Galaxy (9-7-5), who rallied to get a result in a third consecutive game, the draw extended their unbeaten streak to eight games. LAFC (10-5-6), meanwhile, remained unbeaten in 14 games at Banc of California in all competition although this one felt more like a loss than a tie.
“A lot there,” Bradley said. “But certainly a night where, on our end, our ability at the end of the game — composure, intelligence, decision-making, all those things — let us down.”
In the first meeting between the teams, separated by just 14 miles, Ibrahimovic came off the bench to score two memorable goals in his MLS debut. With more fireworks anticipated for the rematch, nearly 300 media credentials — about three times normal — were issued.
And as he did in the first meeting, Vela gave LAFC an early lead, stepping in front of Galaxy defender Michael Ciani to head in a right-footed cross from Adama Diomande in the seventh minute.
LAFC paid dearly for that goal though, with Kaye, one of the team’s most important players, limping slowly to the locker room favoring his left foot. X-rays showed a fractured ankle; he is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday.
As the teams headed off to the halftime locker room, Bradley was asked if he would remind his team what happened last time it had a 2-0 intermission lead over the Galaxy.
“No!” he said emphatically.
Maybe he should have. Because while LAFC kept the pressure up, with Diomande and Horta banging shots off the goal posts, Bradley’s team couldn’t find the back of the net again, letting the Galaxy back in the game.
“We were a little fortunate because they hit the post twice,” Schmid said. “So we’ll take good fortune.”
Alessandrini found more good fortune in the 82nd minute, chesting down a pass from Ibrahimovic, stepping toward the center of the box and right-footing home his second goal of the month. Then Horta, making his MLS debut with LAFC trying to run out the clock, attempted an ill-advised pass toward keeper Tyler Miller that never got there, with Kamara picking it off, dribbling around the keeper and tapping the ball home for his third goal in four games.
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