LAFC, Galaxy downed by Atlanta, SKC

In Atlanta on Saturday, the sophomores beat the freshman as second-year club Atlanta United wedgied first-year Los Angeles Football Club. The Southern club defeated LAFC 5-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after a couple of Video Assistant Refereeing decisions went against the LA club.

A day later, Sporting Kansas City flew into the City of Angeles to visit the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. and leave 2-0 victors on Sunday evening. Galaxy manager Sigi Schmid began the match with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench for the second straight game.

Without the man that’s been dubbed The Lion, the Galaxy continue to miss offensively. Few chances were created during the first half and possession favored the visiting side.

As the game approached the hour mark, the score remained 0-0 and needed a spark. Sporting wingers Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell provided the flair when Salloi found himself in the right spot to poke home a loose ball in the box following a Russell corner kick.

Following Salloi’s jab, it was Russell’s turn to land the game’s haymaker. The Irishman’s zig-zagging run between two Galaxy defenders led him to finish past goalkeeper David Bingham.

Seconds after the SKC chin-check, Schmid released The Lion from the bench.

Like last week, Ibrahimovic improved the team’s enthusiasm on the pitch again but this time to no reward.

“He’s not going to work miracles every time he gets on the field,” Schmid said postgame, “But certainly he forced the goalkeeper into some saves.”

His three shots on goal only helped Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia shine even further after facing and stopping all ten shots the Galaxy had on goal during the 90 minutes.

“Everyone was in good balance, good shape and everyone was competing,” Melia, who was named to MLS’s Team of the Week, said, “That is something I don’t think we have done this year yet, competing from zero to 90-plus minutes. And I think because of that competition and the way we came out, we got the result we deserved.”

In Atlanta, according to LAFC manager Bob Bradley, his club’s five goal loss at the hands of Atlanta United came down to two things: key decisions that went against his team and futility on offense.

The way in which the match began did not appease the American manager, as a red card shown to Atlanta’s Chris McCann less than a minute into the game was revoked after referee Ted Unkel deemed footage from VAR, the newly introduced video review system, showed enough evidence to let McCann back on the field and keep Atlanta United from being reduced to one less player.

“Phycologically for all the players,” Bradley said postgame, “The whole game is already out of whack so on that respect starting a game in that way it’s like the referees couldn’t do a worse job at getting the game going.”

The league’s sophomores made an example of what a freshman class looks like when you don’t let things come to you. Atlanta’s patiences throughout the game won them the three points as they conserved energy when they needed to and attacked from the wings whenever possible.

Atlanta’s first goal came when winger Julian Gressel found himself in acres of space at the back post after finishing a darting run with a tap-in goal. It was also Gressel down the right side again in the second half when his curling cross found the head of Josef Martinez who doubled Atlanta’s lead.

It wasn’t as if LAFC stopped fighting throughout the game. The Black and Gold worked their tail off and were always in the game well into the last ten minutes until Unkle’s key decisions continued to go Atlanta’s way.

Another questionable VAR decision handed the Five Stripes a penalty kick before Unkle called a second penalty on LAFC for a deliberate handball in the box four minutes later which earned Joao Moutinho a second yellow and a sending off. Miguel Almiron stepped up both times and slotted both shots to goal keeper Tyler Miller’s right side to make it 4-0 before substitute Romario Williams’ solo effort from outside the box five minutes later finished the scoring.

Postgame, Carlos Vela and Steven Beitashour were quick to emphasize the importance of lifting one another. Vela suggested that in the last minutes of the game, everyone tried being selfish but felt the team needs to drop that style if they are to change the situation.

“You’re going to have to dig in deep and it’s not about playing for yourself,” Beitashour said, “It’s about playing for the badge and the guys next to you.”