CARSON, Calif. — It was a tale of two halves Sunday when the Galaxy hosted St. Louis City for the first time at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The Galaxy were able to extend their unbeaten streak to four matches after a 2-2 draw against St. Louis City SC.
The result keeps the Galaxy in 13th place in the Western Conference (7-9-10) with 30 points and eight matches remaining. LA is currently four points out of a playoff spot.
The Western Conference leaders, St. Louis, dominated in the second half after a pair of goals from their attacking duo of Sam Adeniran and Joao Klauss put the visitors ahead 2-0 heading into the locker room.
LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said he and his team knew the danger St. Louis presented up top.
“The first half we made some of the mistakes that we talked about not making against the team like this first goal early in the game,” Vanney said afterwards. “We know that they’re a vertical team, and they’re going to run through your lines and you’ve got to make really quick decisions.”
Riqui Puig stepped up to take the penalty kick and easily converted to cut the deficit in half and make the score 2-1 to start the second half.
Puig scored after not looking like himself in the first half, Vanney says it’s likely due to him missing time during training.
“So we didn’t do a whole lot in terms of preparation and training. We just tried to prepare for the match. I thought he looked a little bit tight, a little bit rigid and not free and the first half.”
Aderniran would be sent off in the second half after a late tackle on Puig resulted in a red card, he will miss St. Louis City’s next match against Houston Dynamo.
After Mauricio Cuevas, who was making his first home start for LA, was fouled, a free kick was rewarded to the Galaxy, Fagundez stepped up and took the kick, which bounced off of Uri Rosell’s head and onto Billy Sharp’s who was able to knock in the equalizer late in the second half.
“I’ve made a career out of that the last 20 years,” Sharp said afterwards. “The balls flying in the box and I felt I could get on the end of something.”
Despite having the one-man advantage on St. Louis for a majority of the second half, the Galaxy were unable to find a third goal and would ultimately settle for a draw.
Galaxy midfielder Uri Rosell was proud of the way the team didn’t settle and fought back.
“The guys came with the right mentality. We put everything on the line for the points in the second half,” Rosell said.
With eight matches remaining the Galaxy remain four points out of a playoff spot as an El Tráfico awaits next week, a challenge Vanney accepts.
“I think this group really believes in the opportunity that’s in front of us to still get ourselves into this picture. We know we have some difficult games against top teams in the west you know we have LAFC next week, which is always a battle,” Vanney said. “We keep finding ways to get results and today was a bad start, but we still managed to get a result out of it.”
Sharp has played in his fair share of derbies over the course of his career, but he’s looking forward to Galaxy’s next match, his first El Tráfico.
”These are the games that we as professionals want to play,” Sharp said. “The lads have told me it’s hostile, which I quite like.”
Kickoff against LAFC is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at BMO Stadium.