LA Galaxy vs LAFC wasted no time living up to the media fueled hype.
And he’s prone to do, Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped pour some of the gasoline.
This game had MLS’ biggest star shining in the brightest match of the season and took a new rivalry to true derby status.
Zlatan takes shot at Carlos Vela
Leading up to the game, LA Galaxy #9 Zlatan did his customary self-flagellating.
However, this time he did it at the expense of LAFC star and MLS presumptive MVP Carlos Vela.
In an ESPN FC interview, Zlatan claims he’s the best player in MLS (props to Zlatan for not adding the “the” in front of MLS as well). He also points out that, at 29, Vela is in his prime tearing up MLS–and not Europe.
“[Carlos Vela] is playing in MLS and he’s in his prime. When I was 29 where was I?”— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 18, 2019
Ahead of El Tráfico, Zlatan says he’s the best player in MLS “by far” 👀 (via @ahoraonuncaespn) pic.twitter.com/nAqYrM47sB
Zlatan was with AC Milan for his age 29 season. He scored 14 goals in 29 domestic games that year. The final months of his year 29 was also with Milan and ended up being one of his better European seasons. He scored 28 goals in 32 domestic games and 5 goals in 8 other European matches.
Vela has 21 goals in 20 games for LAFC in MLS competition this year.
Vela responds by burying one from the spot
Vela must’ve heard Zlatan, because he wasted no time putting LAFC up in this derby.
After driving into the box and getting taken down by Galaxy keeper David Bingham, he cooly converted a penalty in the 4th minute, giving LAFC a 1-0 lead.
Zlatan immediately responds with a stunner and follows with a hat trick
Zlatan saw Vela score on a penalty and said, “hold my öl.”
In the 8th minute, Zlatan responds with a goal that only he is capable of scoring in MLS competition.
From there, Zlatan added to his tally, netting a header in the 56th.
He completed his hat trick with another blast in the 70th, giving Galaxy a 3-1 lead.
Vela scored one in the closing seconds of stoppage time. He appeared to be in an off-sides position, but the refs let it stand. Galaxy hung on for the 3-2 win. LAFC loses their 3rd game of the season. They looked out-classed by Galaxy. Zlatan looked like the real MVP.
MLS has a real derby
While nobody will confuse LAFC vs Galaxy with Manchester United vs Manchester City, Liverpool vs Everton, or Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid–make no mistake–this is a real derby.
It was physical. It was feisty. The crowd was loud. This game mattered.
Just like Atlanta United has provided a template for how soccer can work on a large scale in America, LAFC vs Galaxy shows just because you don’t have a 100 year history doesn’t mean you can’t have a derby with some good old fashion hatred.