A red card, a rescinded penalty, an unrostered superstar, and the return of the league's MVP were all part of Sunday's eclectic game between bitter crosstown rivals LAFC and LA Galaxy.
LAFC's Danny Musovski and Carlos Vela both scored second-half goals to secure the team's current standing at fourth place in the Western Conference, while the Galaxy suffered from an early red card and a controversial out-of-bounds play.
Both teams featured some interesting altered lineups—a result of players returning from international duty or injury—including a start from Jonathan Dos Santos and an unrostered Chicharito on the Galaxy side, while Latif Blessing and Bradley Wright-Philipps were relegated to the bench for LAFC.
Playing at their home stadium, LAFC opened the match with a decisively offensive pace, posting 12 shots to Galaxy's three in the first half. At 22 minutes, Galaxy center back Giancarlo Gonzalez was issued a straight red after chopping down LAFC forward Diego Rossi at the edge of the 18. Referee Kevin Stott originally awarded a penalty for Rossi and a yellow card to Gonzalez, but after Video Review, changed the call to a red card and a free kick just a hair outside the box.
Despite Galaxy playing down a man most of the match, LAFC were unable to finish until the 58th minute when Musovski chipped Galaxy keeper Jonathan Klinsmann after a controversial out-of-bounds play. The sequence began when LAFC's Eddie Segura attempted to save the ball on the touchline. Video appears to show the ball go out for what would be a Galaxy corner kick. Instead, the play was not stopped and led to a quick counter from Rossi to Musovski. Galaxy players adamantly protested the play, but upon review, Stott upheld the goal.
"The big mistake was VAR on the first goal for LAFC," Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. "I was surprised when I saw the play, the ball is very clearly out. Even the player for LAFC checked with the linesman, what he is doing, because he realized the ball was out and it was a corner. I think more important thing that changed the game, was the mistake by the VAR, not the red. Because the ref can sometimes make a mistake, but the VAR has to figure out that the ref was wrong. It was very clear the ball was out. I don’t know why the VAR didn’t say that, because the ball is out."
While LAFC had much of their usual starting lineup available for at least partial play, including Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, and Tristan Blackmon, the headliner was undoubtedly the return of reigning MVP and Golden Boot winner Carlos Vela, who scored a cheeky chip shot after being subbed on in the 70th minute.
Vela has been out of action since their first league game post-MLS is Back Tournament, during which he strained his MCL in a 2-0 loss to the Galaxy.
With today's result, this is the Galaxy's seventh loss in their last eight matches. The Galaxy are currently in last place, and with only four games left in the season, will need to make up considerable points to qualify for playoffs in December.
LAFC: Wed., Oct. 28 vs. Houston Dynamo (7:30 pm PT | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada)
LA Galaxy: Wed., Oct. 28 at Portland Timbers (7 pm PT | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN 1/4 in Canada)
Photo Credits: Los Angeles Football Club