It was Decision Day in MLS and for various teams that did not mean much because they were unquestionably out of the playoffs. That was the case for the Houston Dynamo, but regardless of their situation, they came out on Sunday with every intention to ruin the Los Angeles Galaxy’s last chance to end in the top-half of the Western Conference playoff bracket, which would guarantee a home game in the playoffs.
Under the extreme hot weather, which climbed over the 90-degree mark with humidity, the LA Galaxy played their final regular-season game in Houston, Texas with nothing but vigor. After coming off of a devastating home loss to the last place team, the Galaxy needed this win, but La Naranja was not going to succumb.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic started the party for the Angelinos by scoring a phenomenal goal in the 9th minute of play in appropriate Zlatan style. None of the defenders nor goalie, Tyler Deric, expected Zlatan to chip the ball so beautifully to the far post from the top left corner of the Dynamo net. It appeared like the Galaxy was going to take the advantage into the second half when Alberth Elis caught a solid through pass and took a low shot at close range that came off the post and into the feet of Christian Ramirez with nothing but open net. Ramirez did not forgive and equalized the game in the 2nd minute of injury time of the first half.
Galaxy came out strong in the second half and in the 54th minute they attained what they desperately needed. After several consecutive passes that opened up the Dynamo defense, Cristian Pavon was found opened for a finish on the bottom left corner of Deric’s goal. The joy would cease eight minutes later when Elis leveled the scored by bagging a goal after being left unmarked at the back end. Just another example that adds to the questioning performance the Galaxy’s defense has been facing season long.
Towards the end of the game, Galaxy’s night would begin its rapid downfall. At the 83rd minute, Christian Ramirez would score his second goal of the night after a relentless Elis completes a great play that finds Ramirez by the penalty mark for 3-2 lead. Dynamo would proceed to press hard in these last minutes of the game. Four minutes into injury time Elis, once again, produces an extraordinary play that leaves the Galaxy defense rattled and gives Memo Rodriguez the chance to simply tap the ball in for the 4-2 lead.
Galaxy fall in their regular-season finale and end in 5th place of the playoff table. With this result, Galaxy must now fly out to Minnesota (4th place) to face Minnesota United on Sunday, October 20. With the playoff standings and the upcoming schedule now set, there is a possibility we will have another installation of the El Trafico –LA Galaxy vs LAFC- in the Western Conference Semifinal if the Galaxy can manage to defeat Minnesota United. Los Angeles natives can only hope and wait for such a match to become a reality.
By Alberto Hernandez