There is never a dull moment in “El Tráfico”. LAFC and the Galaxy played to another memorable game on Sunday, as Carlos Vela, Jonathan dos Santos, and Uriel Antuna all played part in an exciting 3-3 draw at the Banc of California Stadium. Here’s what we learned from episode five of the battle of Los Angeles.
LAFC still can’t beat the Galaxy
There is no other way around it. LAFC just can’t beat the Galaxy. LAFC coach Bob Bradley has spoken in length about his team needing to achieve the “next step”, and while ultimately, LAFC did enough to earn a draw, they just can’t seem to get past this one mental hurdle.
As Bradley put it, more than a rivalry, this is also about a style of clashes, and if anything, the Galaxy seem to have mastered the ability to expose their crosstown rivals. Whether it is physically pushing LAFC to the limit or playing a patient counter-attacking game, the Galaxy have always found a way. Previously, LAFC have shown to be more than capable of reaching that “next step”, as demonstrated in games against the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United, but it’s just the Galaxy they can’t beat.
If this is about different ways of seeing the game, then LAFC better hope the other teams aren’t taking notes because while nobody is doubting LAFC are the best team in Major League Soccer, the playoffs are a different ball game, particularly against more tactical teams like the Galaxy. Let’s not forget the Chicago Fire came to the Banc of California Stadium earlier in the season and also got a point, employing a very similar style of play but with a slightly less talented team.
As for the possibility both of these teams meeting again in the Playoffs, Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems to be all on board, and why wouldn’t he? That is five El Tráficos and eight goals for the Swede and five games without an LAFC win.
Vela goes off injured but keeps his goalscoring record going
There was good news and bad news in the Carlos Vela front. The good news is Carlos Vela was as influential as ever and scored the equalizing goal for LAFC. The bad news is he had to leave the game injured with a hamstring injury.
If Vela is to be forced to miss any number of games, the timing is unfortunate given that Vela is actively fighting to break Josef Martinez’s record for most goal scored in a single MLS season. That said, after the game coach Bob Bradley confirmed the injury doesn’t appear to be serious, and with LAFC’s Playoff spot already sealed, it might be best to err on the side of caution.
If there is some silver lining to all of this is that this will perhaps speed up the process of bringing on Brian Rodriguez. The Uruguayan looked good in his debut against the Galaxy, and the prospect of a front three of Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Brian Rodriguez should get any LAFC fan excited.
Jonathan dos Santos is having a monster season
Carlos Vela is not the only Mexican player in Major League Soccer having an exceptional season. Jonathan Dos Santos’s performance for the Galaxy on Sunday was once again outstanding.
Though Jona did eventually have to leave the match with a hamstring injury, in his 82 minutes of play he led the way both on and off the ball. Jona was vital in limiting the number of offensive plays in LAFC’s arsenal and forced a number of key giveaways in the midfield, including the one in the buildup to the Galaxy’s third goal.
There is a reason why Mexico National Team coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino has so much faith in Jona, and it’s easy to see why. When we talk about most impactful players in the Galaxy roster, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is obviously the first name that comes up, but without Jona, perhaps we would be talking about a completely different looking Galaxy team. He is more or less the heart of this team, and one of the main reasons why LAFC went winless in their two regular season matches against the Galaxy.