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Sweet, Sweet Victory: LAFC Clinch their First Win v. L.A. Galaxy, Advance to Conference Finals

When it comes to Major League Soccer, it doesn't get much bigger or braggier or bitter-er than this. Two of the best teams in the league faced off on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Banc of California Stadium for the Western Conference Semifinals—one with five MLS Cups under their belt (Galaxy), the other with the 2019 Supporters' Shield (LAFC); one led by international legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the other by Golden Boot victor Carlos Vela; one with diehard fans from the '90s, the other with a massive and rapidly growing supporters section.

Over the past two seasons, LAFC and the L.A. Galaxy have developed one of the best, and most acerbic rivalries in the league's history. So for LAFC, who had yet to beat their city nemesis despite soaring atop the leader board all season, their 5-3 win versus the L.A. Galaxy during the knockout-style playoffs was nothing short of sweet satisfaction.

Chants of "MVP! MVP!" echoed throughout the stadium as LAFC's Carlos Vela posted the night's first two goals thanks to assists from Lee Nguyen (in for an injured Mark-Anthony Kaye), Diego Rossi, and Brian Rodriguez. But as expected, the lead would not last long. Not against the L.A. Galaxy. Twice LAFC had a 2-goal lead, and twice they lost it. Galaxy's lethal Argentine winger Cristian Pavon responded first, with a swift and easy slot past Tyler Miller in the 41st minute, followed by the Lion himself (Ibrahimovic), who capitalized on a defensive fumble to make it 2-2 early into the second half.

At 66 minutes, LAFC winger Diego Rossi posted LAFC's third goal, followed by a fourth from super-sub Adama Diomande. The Galaxy responded with a set piece from Romain Alessandrini to Rolf Feltscher, both fresh off the bench, making it a one-goal game at 4-3. But it would be LAFC striker Diomande who secured the home team victory with a decisive, impassioned breakaway goal at 80 minutes.

This was Diomande's first game back after a voluntary month-long stint with the league's Substance Abuse and Behavior Health Program. Dio, who is known for his high-energy, if at times inconsistent performances, no doubt exceeded expectations this match, showcasing both pace and strength. Post-match, the Norwegian national explained that he had entered the health program due to personal, mental reasons, and not because of drug use or alcohol. He also spoke of his close father-son like relationship with Manager Bob Bradley, who helped steer him back onto the field.

LAFC currently hold an embarrassment of league records, including most number of points in a single season, greatest goal differential, and lead scorer. As a result, they face tremendous expectations all around, despite only being in their second season of existence. Having finally overcome this hurdle, however, they look to be in prime shape in their bid for the MLS Cup. Next up, they face the Seattle Sounders at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at home. The winners of that match will face off against the Eastern Conference champions for the MLS Cup finals.

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