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LA Galaxy roar back for 2-2 draw with LAFC in rivalry series
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES (AP) After just two games between powerhouse LA Galaxy and expansion Los Angeles FC, this delicious new MLS rivalry already has a distinct flavor.
LAFC is a burgeoning powerhouse, unafraid of its pedigreed rivals and capable of scoring early and often.
And as Ola Kamara demonstrated in the waning minutes Thursday night, the Galaxy really know how to finish.
Kamara scored in the 86th minute after a terrible turnover by Andre Horta in his MLS debut, and the Galaxy rallied from a late two-goal deficit for a 2-2 draw with LAFC in the second edition of the Los Angeles derby already dubbed "El Trafico."
Carlos Vela and Lee Nguyen scored in the first half for LAFC, but Romain Alessandrini answered for the Galaxy in the 82nd minute. Kamara then pounced on a terrible back pass by Horta, a 21-year-old Portuguese designated player widely expected to become a star.
Kamara rounded goalkeeper Tyler Miller and tapped in the tying goal. For the second straight time, the Galaxy had rallied late from a multi-goal deficit to steal points from LAFC.
"All of us really want to win this game, and certainly not lose it," Kamara said. "This is the game that has the highest intensity for sure, and also the (highest) quality of players in it. It's a lot of fun."
The rematch nearly lived up to the unforgettable first meeting between the powerhouse Galaxy and expansion LAFC on March 31. That game featured the MLS debut of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who came on as a jetlagged substitute and promptly scored the tying and winning goals in the Galaxy's astonishing rally from a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory.
Ibrahimovic didn't score in the rematch despite playing the entire game and looking dangerous up front. Instead, LAFC showed off its impressive poise for a first-year club by jumping to an early lead - and the veteran Galaxy showed their impressive capacity for comebacks.
While the Galaxy's celebrations of the draw were understandably more muted. The draw clearly felt like a loss to LAFC, which must wait until Aug. 24 to get another chance for its first win over the Galaxy.
"It's a derby, and everybody has got to fight to the end," LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. "We've only got ourselves to blame."
The heralded Horta, who arrived in Los Angeles from Portugal last month, came on as a second-half substitute shortly after Diomande hit the post in the 76th minute. Horta hit the Galaxy's post with a shot moments after his dismal turnover, but neither team could break the draw in the frantic final minutes.
"Andre Horta is going to be a very, very good player for us," Bradley said. "I feel bad for him, but he's young. He's been waiting a long time to get his chance, but obviously it's a very bad decision for him to play the ball that far back."
LAFC (10-5-6) still remained unbeaten at Banc of California Stadium, while the Galaxy extended their unbeaten run to eight games.
Vela scored on a header in the seventh minute, and Nguyen added his first goal for LAFC on a sneaky free kick later in the first half. Vela wasn't feeling happy about his eighth MLS goal afterward.
"If the game was 5 minutes longer, we would have lost for sure," the Mexican World Cup standout said.
Even before the thrilling final result, both teams' supporters demonstrated that this rivalry has already acquired a distinct flavor and a palpable edge. Fans of both teams arrived at the downtown stadium long before game time while wearing team colors and singing loudly, albeit with few apparent conflicts.
The North End supporters' section was in full voice 90 minutes before kickoff, and the 22,000-seat stadium was packed at game time with fans who overcame the rivalry's namesake LA traffic.
LAFC has received thriving fan support since its opening game from a core of several thousand hard-core fans and many others drawn to the franchise by its impressive marketing and Bradley's attractive style of play. The Galaxy's support is well-established among the Southland's 19 million inhabitants after winning a record five MLS titles and employing a long series of superstars from David Beckham to Landon Donovan.
Updated July 27, 2018