CARSON, Calif. — There were fireworks both on the field and in the stands during Club León’s 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy in the Leagues Cup.
Wednesday’s match, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed after León faced “mechanical issues” on the team’s way to LA following a victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on penalty kicks in their opening match of the tournament, marked the first time these two teams ever met.
While some skeptics might have questioned the intensity level of the inaugural Leagues Cup tournament, Wednesday’s matchup between Club León and the LA Galaxy provided its share of intensity in between the four lines.
When asked if the physicality of the match came as a surprise, León head coach Nicolás Larcamón said, in Spanish, “No, I like it.”
Lacramón went on to compliment and thank the León fans that came out. “They know we’re with them every day,” Lacramón said. “Today when we came to the stadium there was a lot of green jerseys.”
Galaxy defender Jalen Neal, in his first game back after playing for the US Men’s national team in the Gold Cup this summer, didn’t think Wednesday night was anything out of the ordinary.
“It was like a regular game,” Neal said. “There were fouls here and there, but that’s going to be part of the game, especially when there’s a MLS team against a Liga MX team.”
From the opening moments, both teams had their fair share of hard fouls and questionable no-call moments, until Janie Barreiro brought down Riqui Puig by his collar and was subsequently booked for a yellow card in the 38th, which there was no question was a foul.
The two teams entered the locker room in a scoreless stalemate.
Neal saw the issue from the backline that eventually led to the second half goal. “In the first half we didn’t maintain enough possession,” Neal said. “We were just running around and that leads to us getting out of position.”
Leon managed to broke through after finding the Galaxy backline out of position. Following a well placed ball from Osvaldo Rodriguez, all Angel Mena had to do was tap in the opening goal of the night for the visitors in the 58th, although the crowd reaction to the goal was that of a home team.
Despite being down a goal, the Galaxy supporter’s section began to let off smoke bombs and fireworks in the stands, unfortunately the Galaxy couldn’t follow suit with any fireworks of their own on the field.
Jovelic had a chance to tie it late for the Galaxy, after receiving the ball from Boyd and creating a breakaway opportunity that drew Rodolfo Cota out of the goalkeeper box, Jovelic’s shot at an empty net hit the side of it.
Boyd had an open shot outside of the box a couple minutes later and missed wide, which ended up being the Galaxy’s final offensive play of the game
León clinched first place in the group and move on to the knockout round, where they await their opponents.
The Galaxy now find themselves in a win-or-go home situation against the Whitecaps, at 6:00 p.m. Sunday, the same team that handed the Galaxy its last defeat in MLS play over a week ago.
Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney knows this loss doesn’t nearly mark the end of his team’s time in this tournament.
”Not everything was riding on this game, it would have been great to get three points or to put ourselves in the pole position. It just means that for our advancement, everything rides on the next game. That’s tournament play.”