CARSON, Calif. — If someone told you that Minnesota United FC visiting Dignity Health Sports Park on a Wednesday night in September would be must-see TV, you probably would’ve laughed at them.
They would’ve been right though.
10 yellow cards, a red card, a hat-trick from Billy Sharp and seven goals combined from each squad later and the Galaxy (8-9-11) would rally from a two goal deficit to defeat Minnesota United, 4-3, earning a much-needed 3 points and keeping LA in the chase for a playoff berth.
“It was the most important win of the season,” LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said. “because of the timing of it and the way we came back and battled and got the points. I think it’s the most important win of the season. I think the resiliency was massive.”
The match commenced with the Galaxy taking the lead as Sharp netted the first of his three goals in the 16th minute, putting LA ahead 1-0.
Teemu Pukki leveled the score just three minutes later, finding the net unassisted to make it 1-1.
In the 41st minute, Bongokuhle Hlongwane capitalized on a pass from Hassani Dotson to give Minnesota United a 2-1 advantage. Hlongwane extended their lead just before halftime, with an assist from Pukki during stoppage time, bringing his season total to eight goals.
“In the the first half, we weren’t terrible. We had some chances. We just committed some colossal errors,” Vanney said afterwards.
Vanney went onto explain how the talk in the locker room was less about tactics and more about the team’s mindset but it a comment from Kelvin Leerdam lit a fire under Sharp.
“There were a lot of good things said in the locker room at halftime,” Sharp said afterwards. “I remember Kelvin saying, as we’re going out, ‘they think they’ve already won the game’ and that really got me going.”
Sharp pulled one back for the Galaxy in the 63rd minute, assisted by defender Maya Yoshida, cutting the deficit to one.
Eight minutes later, Sharp struck again, not only equalizing the score but also doubling his season’s goal tally. Sharp, in his first season in MLS, achieved this in just his second start and sixth appearance for the G’s.
“He gave us a lifeline, Galaxy defender Raheem Edwards said about Sharp. “We’re kind of depleted right now for goals. And this is a guy that’s obviously experienced, he knows where to be.”
Minnesota United were down a man starting from the 74th minute after Ethan Bristow received his second yellow card of the match.
In the 82nd minute, Fagundez scored the winner on an assist from Tyler Boyd, netting his first goal in a Galaxy uniform.
Looking ahead, the Galaxy will travel to play Austin FC on Sunday, a game Fagundez is personally looking forward to, considering he scored two goals in 19 appearances with Austin FC earlier in the season.
“It’s definitely something bittersweet, but I’m actually excited to go there,” Fagundez said. I’m excited that I got my 69th goal today. So hopefully to hit one of my milestones, 70 goals, in Austin would be amazing.”