LAFC triumphs in high-scoring El Tráfico, 4-2

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
LAFC emerged victorious in the 21st edition of El Tráfico, 4-2, behind Bouanga’s brace and Tillman’s late goal.

LOS ANGELES — Before the game, there were plenty of fireworks raining down on the field at BMO Stadium. 

The 21st rendition of El Tráfico also provided its fair share of fireworks during the game as well. 

LAFC (12-7-9) defeated the Galaxy, 4-2, in front of a raucous crowd Saturday night.

“Much needed three points. I was happy with the response from the guys all week: the were very focused. I think it was clear from minute one who was winning this game tonight,” LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said afterwards.

The result was far from what the Galaxy (7-9-11) had hoped for, as the team now sits five points out of a playoff spot. Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney has not lost sight of the team’s goal of a postseason berth.

“Our home games are really important but the next two games against teams that we’re trying to track down amongst other games in front of us,” Vanney said.

In his season debut, LAFC’s Maxime Crépeau started in goal, marking his return to action after a leg injury suffered in the MLS Cup final.

“It was a long road; I will tell you that. It was super long. Lots of ups and lots of downs during these 10 months. It has been quite a ride,” Crépeau said. “It was a great feeling to be out with my teammates and to compete. There was positives to take from tonight. Obviously, the most important was taking the three points.”

Ryan Hollingshead also found the back of the net for LAFC, but it was Denis Bouanga who broke the deadlock with his second goal in the 75th minute.

Bouanga seized an opportunity thanks to a mistake from Chris Mavinga, which allowed Bouanga to score a header in the first half.

An early goal from Billy Sharp and a second-half equalizer from Maya Yoshida, his first in MLS since coming to LA, gave the 13th-place Galaxy a fighting chance, but LAFC ultimately ran away with it during the final half hour of play.

Both Galaxy goals were assisted by Diego Fagundez.

Timothy Tillman added the final goal of the evening in the 84th minute. 

During Tillman’s goal, Yoshida was down after what he and Vanney carefully described as a foul that went uncalled.

“I felt like it was a foul,” Yoshida said. “I don’t want to say stupid things that get me fined, so tell me your thoughts, because I don’t want to pay.” 

Vanney wasn’t sure why the play wasn’t stopped.

“When a centerback gets fouled and is laying on the ground in transition, you’re dead on the other side,” Vanney said. “For me this should be a foul, we bring it back and we start to play. But at least we get a chance to protect ourselves if something doesn’t go right because more attacks end in transitions.”

Next, both teams will quickly return to the pitch on Wednesday, with LAFC hitting the road to face Western Conference leaders St. Louis City SC, while the Galaxy will return to Dignity Health Sports Park to host Minnesota United.