Mar 18, 2018; Frisco, TX, USA; Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey (2) is sent off after receiving a red card in the first half against FC Dallas at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
It was a tale of two halves for the first game between the LA Galaxy and LAFC.
The first half was very one sided as LAFC maintained much of the possession and led 2-0 over the Galaxy.
The second half was greatly impacted by the addition of LA Galaxy’s newest signing, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who led his team to a 4-3 victory over their new cross-town rivals.
The LA Galaxy started the day as a depleted team without all three designated players — Romain Alessandrini, Giovani Dos Santos and Jonathan Dos Santos were out due to injury.
However, they had regained a few key elements in defender Ashley Cole and midfielder Chris Pontius, so they still had a chance against their then-undefeated cross town rivals, LAFC.
LAFC struck first with two first half goals from Carlos Vela, and benefited from an own goal from Daniel Steres early in the second half to bring the score to 3-0. The possession was relatively one sided, with the Galaxy only managing two shots on goal until the floodgates opened and the tide changed.
Sebastian Lleget opened the scoring for the Galaxy in the 61st minute, adding his first goal since he returned from an injury that kept him out most of last season. Lleget was then subbed out for forward Ibrahimovic and the game completely changed. Ola Kamara had been heavily marked by LAFC defense for the majority of the match, but once a player of Ibrahimovic’s caliber entered the field, room was created for other Galaxy offensive players.
Pontius scored on a diving header in the 73rd minute, off a cross from Ema Boateng. From then on, it was the Zlatan show. Ibrahimovic scored two goals to put the LA Galaxy ahead of LAFC 4-3, including one 40 yard screamer that brought fans in the stadium to their feet.
“The fans were demanding something, and I gave them Zlatan,” Ibrahimovic said of his impact on the match.
LA Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said he was proud of his team after rallying from a three goal deficit.
“These are team building moments, defining moments for a team,” Schmid said. “There’s a realization within the group that nothing is impossible. you’re 3-0 down and you can still come back. It helps build our character and our belief in our abilities.”
Looking ahead, the LA Galaxy will host Sporting Kansas City April 8th at 6 p.m. PT at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and are expected to several of their injured players return.