Los Angeles Football Club finally claimed the one scalp that had eluded and haunted the black and gold in an exciting 5-3 victory over Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy Thursday night.
LAFC had seemingly been on a mission ever since their first-round loss to Real Salt Lake in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Bob Bradley's men started the season focused and went on to break the MLS record for the most points in a season.
Carlos Vela broke the single-season goal scoring record and has been tipped to win the league's MVP Award. LAFC won the Supporter's Shield. No matter how much success the club experienced on the pitch or in the stands, there was just one obstacle the club could seemingly never overcome: the L.A. Galaxy.
"We knew it was our time," Bradley, who was named 2019 Sigi Schmidt Coach of the Year earlier in the day, said after Thursday's win. Bradley said his team was happy to see the Galaxy advance past Minnesota to set up Thursday's mouth-watering derby because his team was ready to slay the dragon.
With the 3252 supporters group jumping and jamming all game long to create a cacophony of noise that reverberated throughout the stadium, Carlos Vela and Adama Diomande both notched braces to lead LAFC past the LA Galaxy, 5-3, at Banc of California Stadium.
"In the playoffs it's not a matter of what team you are playing against," said Vela about beating the Galaxy for the first time in team history. "We need to win two more games."
The City of Angels palpitated with anticipation all week about the dream matchup that Zlatan himself predicted after a 3-3 draw on Aug. 25.
"I want to play them in the playoffs," he said. "And I want to play them here," referring to the Banc of California Stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
Zlatan and the Galaxy got their wish, but the game started slower than the past meetings between the teams.
The crowd was whipped into a frenzy in the 16th minute when Vela surprised the sold out stadium with a shot off his non-dominant foot. Vela received the pass from Rossi and pretended to set up with his left foot, but instead took one-touch, and slotted a shot with his right foot to the far post for the game's opening tally.
Early in the match, LAFC focused on defense, trying to make sure that Ibrahimovic didn't go off early, as he'd done against them in previous meetings. LAFC seemingly believed that as the more rested team, if they could withstand the Galaxy's attack in the first thirty minutes, they would win the match.
With a 1-0 lead, LAFC provided plenty of consternation for its rival when Vela scored his second goal of the game thanks to a two-on-one break that appeared to be offsides. After a video review, the goal stood, and LAFC had a 2-0 lead.
The LA Galaxy finally broke through in the 41st minute when Ibrahimovic found Christian Pavon streaking down the left flank for a right-footed shot to the far post, cutting the lead in half before the half.
As they've done time and time again throughout the season, the Galaxy fought back in the second half, tying the game on a goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic that went between keeper Tyler Miller's legs for the equalizer.
Even with the Galaxy erasing a two-goal lead, LAFC didn't seem to panic and continued to push the Galaxy. That energy and belief turned into two goals in a span of two minutes to put the game seemingly out of reach.
Only, the Galaxy would not die, as Romain Alessandrini found Rolf Feltscher to make it a one-goal game with 13 minutes remaining in regulation. Again, LAFC would not be denied and Diomande scored his second of the match to put the stake in the Galaxy's heart and score the eights goal of the match.
The LA Galaxy's season comes to an end, with rumors swirling that Ibrahimovic may have played his last match in Major League Soccer.
Next, LAFC will host the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday at Banc of California Stadium at 7:00PM PT.