El Trafico: LAFC in a new look keeps moving and beats Galaxy

Carlos Vela is one of five players remaining from the LAFC 2019 team that won fan shield and broke the MLS record for points in a season. So, with the team once again leading the league, just four points behind the pace set in 2019, Vela was asked this week about the similarities.

According to the captain, there are not many of them, which largely explains the success of this season.

“We are a really strong team, more mature, more experienced,” he said.

“If you see the same faces every [day], motivation is hard to find. This year with many changes how we play [we’re] always in a good place to really trust what we’re doing and get that motivation to really dream big.”

The LAFC offseason saw 10 players leave and eight come in, and two of those additions were instrumental in Friday’s sloppy game. 3-2 win over the Galaxy at Bank of California Stadium, with Kellyn Acosta setting the first goal from the corner and the goalkeeper Maxim Krepo making four saves, one of which is not in his season.

LAFC goaltender Maxim Krepo controls the ball in the first half against Galaxy on July 8, 2022.

LAFC goalkeeper Maxim Krepo controls the ball in the first half. He finished the game with four saves, one of which was not the best of the season.

(Kewson Gong/Associated Press)

The first two scores, one in each half, came from Jose Cifuentesthe first multi-goal game of his MLS career and the third scored by Cristian Arango, his 28th in 36 games with LAFC.

The win, fifth in MLS’s last seven games, put the LAFC (12-4-3) five points clear of Austin in the Western Conference and supporter standings, and three goals extended the team’s league lead in goals and goals. differential. The result also snapped the LAFC’s five-game winless streak against a local rival.

“The result for us was huge,” Acosta said. “Finally getting rid of this monkey was a huge achievement.”

As for the Galaxy (8-7-3), their first loss this season against a team in the top six in the league standings left them just one point above the line separating the teams in the conference playoffs from the teams that did not qualify. qualification. The three goals conceded also match the season’s record.

However, despite all the changes made by LAFC General Manager John Torrington on the pitch (Friday’s six starters, including Arango, were not with the team at this time last season), the most important difference may be in front of the bench, where imposing Steve Cherundolo replaced the incendiary Bob Bradley.

“They are like two opposite sides,” Vela said. “Bob is a really intense trainer. He wants everything to be perfect.”

But with Cherundolo “it gets colder, cooler,” Vela said. “He will let people just enjoy [the game]. He will say, “Come on, follow some rules. But after that, just show your skill, your talent, and do your best for the team.”

José Cifuentes of LAFC, airborne from the right, scores a first-half goal against Galaxy on July 8, 2022.

LAFC midfielder José Cifuentes (airborne right) scores with a header in the first half. The multi-goal game was the first of his MLS career.

(Kewson Gong/Associated Press)

On Friday it worked: LAFC opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Cifuentes took a corner and headed Acosta’s cross from the edge of the penalty area. This boded well, as LAFC had won the previous eight games in which they scored the first goal of the season.

But a sloppy pass haunted the team all night, allowing the Galaxy to equalize with Samuel Grandseer’s first goal of the season in the 55th minute.

Another header from Cifuentes gave LAFC the lead in the 70th minute, with Arango scoring two minutes later on the breakaway, a goal that proved to be the winner when Raveloson headed with nine minutes left in regulation.

But it was as close as the galaxy could get.

“Today,” Cherundolo said, “we have a little more than they do.”

Galaxy midfielder Ryan Raveloson shoots during the first half against LAFC on July 8, 2022.

Galaxy midfielder Ryan Raveloson shoots in the first half. He scored a goal in the 81st minute, but that was not enough.

(Kewson Gong/Associated Press)

However, Vela, who scored his seventh assist since Sifuentes’ second goal, warned that the team’s success in the second half of the season would mean little unless LAFC ended the year in the MLS Cup. A record-breaking 2019 season ended with a loss in Game 2 of the playoffs, leaving the team with unfinished business to visit this fall.

“The most important part of the season is approaching,” he said. “We have to be ready to show how good we are in the most difficult moments.”