Major League Soccer: Vela’s penalty cancels out Ibrahimovic’s tally

Friday night the Los Angeles Galaxy remained unbeaten against cross-town rival the Los Angeles Football Club after a 1-1 draw at StubHub Center.

LAFC’s Carlos Vela converted from the penalty spot to cancel out Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first-half opener.

The third edition of El Trafico was a tight affair between two teams searching for momentum as playoffs approach. The first two match-ups each began with league newcomers LAFC on the front foot. This time, it was the five-time Major League Soccer champions Galaxy aggressive from the first whistle.

“I thought our intensity was really good.” Galaxy manager Sigi Schmid said post-game. “I thought the first half was good for us.”

With Galaxy sustaining possession inside the LAFC half for most of the first 10 minutes, the first chance of the match came when Ola Kamara slipped Ibrahimovic in behind the defense. His first-time shot was smartly parried away by LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller for a corner kick.

The following corner was nicely dealt with by the visitors but it took little time for the home side to regain possession and score the first goal of the game.

Upon winning the ball back, the Galaxy were patient by passing the ball from one side to the other where Kamara once again found Ibrahimovic from a cross on the left side. This time, the Galaxy’s leading goal-scorer added to his season tally by poking home just past the line from inside the six-yard box.

The striker’s 16th goal of the season needed Video Assistant Referring to confirm that the ball crossed the line after LAFC defender Danilo Silva tried to keep the ball out. Replays proved the ball crossed for the 15th minute goal.

Coach Schmid mentioned that following the team’s 5-0 loss to Seattle last week the team’s effort and quality of desire made a big difference in today’s game.

“I think at times we’ve been too soft and some guys stood up in terms of that.” Schmid said. “Rolf [Feltscher] helps us because he’s more physical.”

Two yellow cards and a +8 duels won difference at halftime  showed a physical side the Galaxy have been missing all season.

After the match LAFC manager Bob Bradley was conscious about the Galaxy’s game plan: “We understand that they want to be physical to not allow us the rhythm and flow that we want and that’s normal. They aren’t the only team to try to do it.”

The brut style out of the gates from the Galaxy might have been the reason for why LAFC was mostly tame on offense during the first period.

It wasn’t until after the break when the Black and Gold managed to showcase offensively. First when winger Diego Rossi skipped past three defenders two minutes into the second period only to shoot straight at goalkeeper David Bingham.

Then two minutes later when Mexican forward Vela tricked midfielder Perry Kitchen into a slide tackle inside the box which brought down the Mexican for a penalty.

Captain for the night following rumors of usual captain Laurent Ciman’s transfer to Belgium, Vela cooly shot the ball into the net as Bingham dove the wrong way.

The rest of the half saw the visitors come closest to stealing three points but goals traded by Ibrahimovic and Vela earned both teams a point.

The Galaxy now lead the season series with its new cross-town rival after winning one and tying twice in their first season as opponents. Up next for the Galacticos is a road trip to Real Salt Lake Saturday.

As for the Black and Gold which sit second place in the Western Conference, a long trip to Toronto looms Saturday for its first game against Toronto Football Club, the reigning MLS champion.