CARSON, Calif. — Both the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City entered the match on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but the Galaxy made a statement with their decisive 7-2 victory Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park. With the win, the Galaxy were propelled to 5th place in the Western Conference standings, and, with his hat trick, forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved to second in the league’s golden boot race with 26 goals on the season, just two goals behind LAFC’s Carlos Vela.
Several key Galaxy players returned for the match. Midfielders Jonathan Dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget both returned from international duty to reclaim their spots in the starting line up. Joe Corona, who was filling in for an injured Favio Alvarez, earned a starting spot for the Galaxy for the first time since Aug. 3 in Atlanta.
Sporting Kansas City opened the scoring in the 24th minute, with Felipe Gutiérrez netting his first of the night. He would score again in the 86th minute, but by that point in the match, Sporting’s fate was already sealed.
The Galaxy were awarded a penalty kick in the 30th minute of play, and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic took the kick. Sporting’s goalkeeper Tim Melia made the stop, but bobbled a rebound right in front of a charging Ibrahimovic, who calmly tapped away his first goal of the night. The first half ended with a 1-1 scoreline, but, once the second half began, the tide turned in favor of the Galaxy.
Corona scored his first ever LA Galaxy goal in the 48th minute, seeming to stun the Kansas City defense. From there, Ibrahimovic scored his second of the night in the 51st minute, Uriel Antuna scored in the 69th minute, Lletget scored in both the 77th and 79th minutes, and Ibrahimovic completed his hat trick in the 85th minute.
This win was important for the Galaxy because heading into the match they were sitting in 8th place in the Western Conference standings, out of the playoff picture. The high score brought LA even on goal differential in the standings, as well, which could be beneficial for the team in case of a tiebreaker further down the road.
In their next match, the LA Galaxy will host the Montreal Impact on Sept. 21 at 10:30pm ET. After that match, the Galaxy have just three more matches to close out the MLS regular season.