LA Galaxy fight to 3-3 finish against St. Louis City

Henry Tran - The Sporting Tribune
LA Galaxy exchange blows and goals with St. Louis City in hotly contested match at Dignity Health Sports Park that ends 3-3.

CASRSON, Calif. — The fireworks and a DJ TOKiMONSTA performance that kicked off the night were a fitting prelude to the firepower yet to come on the field as LA Galaxy played a formidable St. Louis City in a supercharged match to a 3-3 finish at Dignity Health Sports Park. Yet the scoreline belied the minutia of action underlying the back-and-forth goals. The match had it all: high xGs from both sides, a bicycle kick, questionable officiating, heated exchanges between players, a sacrificial red card, an own-goal, and a noteworthy achievement by their currently longest tenured player, Dejan Joveljić who scored his fourth goal in as many matches.

While LA Galaxy outshot St. Louis with 8 shots on goal to their 5, St. Louis goalkeeper Roman Burki, 2023 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, made six saves compared with John McCarthy’s three. “On a night like this, we needed Roman to be at his best, just to lead the way as a captain should do,” St. Louis City coach Bradley Carnell said afterwards. “And he was massive for us tonight. I mean, you know, to shut down that whole team for 90 minutes, it’s pretty much impossible.”

The two sides exchanged goals throughout the action-packed match, but LA Galaxy had the first and last words, from the third minute when Joveljić nabbed the first goal at the end of a beautiful passing sequence by Diego Fagúndez and Julián Aude, until the dying minutes of the match as Maya Yoshida lunged forward to head in free kick from Gaston Brugman giving the hosts a last goal that tied the match.

 After Joveljić scored in the third minute, City’s Tomáš Ostrák stole a failed Galaxy pass scoring from 17 yards out in the 27th minute. In spite of the stunning displays in the first half, most of the action occurred in the second half of the match. Joseph Paintsil gave the Galaxy a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute when he, left unmarked on right wing, artfully played a pass from Mark Delgado, sprinted, and scored inside the left post. The 2-1 lead was short-lived however. In the 60th minute, City’s Joakim Nilsson scored an unlikely but undeterred bicycle kick from about eight yards out off a header from Sam Adeniran to tie the score 2-2.  

The third goal for St. Louis was one of the many controversial officiating moments on the pitch. John McCarthy suffered one of the worst scenarios a goalkeeper can face when, in an effort to deflect a corner kick by City’s Celio Pompeu, he clashed with Kyle Hiebert and instead punched the ball into his own net in the 88th minute. All hope seemed lost for a Galaxy who grew more and more desperate as the final minutes wore away. Yet Yoshida’s header in extra time, followed by a spectacular red card sacrifice from Martín Cáceres to stop a dangerous run from Samuel Adeniran poised to shoot a final goal attempt for City, saved the Galaxy from losing all three points. The two split the spoils of war, and both now have 6 points, separated in the table by the thinnest of margins.

LA Galaxy are off to a promising start with no defeats in their first four matches, and are currently sitting in 4th place in the Western Conference. Yet, despite scoring 9 goals across their opening games, they’ve also yielded 7, pointing to a weakness in their defense, most recently noticeable against the gritty determination of St. Louis City. Until the referee situation is settled in a professional manner, questions will remain around close matches like the one at Dignity Health Sports Park tonight when officiating overruled some common sense calls on both sides. Vanney elaborated in the post-match press conference.

“They’re a pressing team. They get in your space, and they get in your face. And if the standard of a foul is off when you play these teams that are in your face, and up your back and grab you from behind, and are doing all that stuff, then it’s going to be tough for the team that wants to have possession and wants to play.” Ultimately, however electric the match was, the overall sentiment from LA Galaxy’s players was one of disappointment from missed golden opportunities. “We did not win one point. We lost two,” Joveljić concluded. The undefeated LA Galaxy will face Sporting Kansas City on the road next Saturday.

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