Los Angeles FC looked like a team ready to finally exorcise the demon that has been its winless record against the LA Galaxy. At least for the first 40 minutes of Thursday’s MLS Western Conference semifinal at Banc of California Stadium.
The LA Galaxy wasn’t going to make things easy, but even their impressive rally from 2-0 down to tie the match wasn’t enough to deny LAFC on a night when its attack was at its best, and stepped up to answer the Galaxy’s response.
LAFC scored three second-half goals in a 14-minute span to finally silence its rivals. Carlos Vela scored two goals and set up another in the first half, while Diego Rossi had a hand in three goals, and Adama Diomande came off the bench to add two goals of his own to help LAFC finally defeat the Galaxy, 5-3, for the first win over the Galaxy in LAFC history.
LAFC will now play host to the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday in the Western Conference final, with the winner securing a place in the 2019 MLS Cup final. Seattle defeated Real Salt Lake on Wednesday to book its place in the West final.
The Galaxy erased a two-goal deficit to push the Supporters’ Shield winners to the brink, with Cristian Pavon offering an immediate response just a minute after Carlos Vela made the score 2-0 with his second of the night.
When Zlatan scored a 55th-minute equalizer to make the score 2-2, LAFC looked like it might have its season ended at home for the second straight season. Bob Bradley’s side didn’t fold though, and instead continued to torment Galaxy defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, a central defender who looked completely overmatched playing at right back.
Rossi abused Gonzalez repeatedly, first scoring a goal of his own before setting up the first of two goals by Adama Diomande to make the score 4-2.
The Galaxy showed some late life when Rolf Feltscher’s header made the score 4-3, but the Galaxy defense fell apart yet again just three minutes later when he beat Diego Polenta on the turn and raced in for LAFC’s fifth goal of the night.