The first derby match of the year between crosstown rivals LAFC and the LA Galaxy was played last Friday on July 19, 2019. LAFC had yet to beat their Carson counterparts and seemed to be in high spirits and excellent form after a convincing win against the Houston Dynamo a week earlier.
The Galaxy on the other hand, while still in second place on the season, are not playing the best soccer. Their one-dimensional playing style, has been noted throughout their season due to their over-reliance on the team’s megastar Zlatan Ibrahimović, who has the penchant for the spectacular but disappears for long stretches. All eyes were on Zlatan and on this occasion, he lived up to the media hype scoring a perfect hat trick and edging out LAFC on the day.
LAFC had a dream start, when Carlos Vela earned a penalty in just the 2nd minute of play, coming from a clumsy tackle from LA Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham. Vela converted with ease putting the Black and Gold up 1-0, however, the lead would be short-lived.
Just six minutes later in the 8th minute, Zlatan roared back with his team’s answer with a brilliant touch from an overhead pass and strike on the half volley he put the Galaxy level at 1-1.
Then, in the 56th minute, the LA Galaxy took the lead when a Diego Polenta cross found the head of the 6’5’’ Swede putting the Galaxy up 2-1.
Zlatan Ibrahimović had the icing on his hat trick cake in the 71st minute when he received the ball in stride and with a bullet from 25 yards out, beat a reaching Tyler Miller to put the Galaxy ahead 3-1 where the game would finish.
Overall, the Galaxy had LAFC’s number and outplayed the Black and Gold throughout most of the game. Vela and Rossi had difficulty finding their touch which lead to an attack that seemed impotent in comparison to their usual caliber.
The Galaxy now sit nine points behind LAFC in the West in second place. Though still a few games ahead, second place is still much too close for comfort for the Black and Gold, who play the Galaxy again on August 25th.
It’s also worth noting that the Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimović is potentially facing a lengthy ban for his brutish elbow in the face of LAFC defender Mohamed El-Munir, leaving a fracture and small dent near the temple of the Libyan International. El-Munir is expected to have surgery following his visit to specialists.