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LAFC dealt Vela blow as Galaxy win 'El Trafico'

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Published in Soccer
Saturday, 22 August 2020 20:28

Ethan Zubak and Sebastian Lletget each scored a goal as the LA Galaxy earned their first victory of season with a 2-0 decision at LAFC on Saturday in a match that saw reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela exit early with a left leg injury.

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Despite LAFC emerging as one of the best teams in MLS over the last three seasons, the Galaxy (1-3-2, five points) have defeated their cross-town rival three times in yet another entertaining chapter in the "El Traifco" derby. LAFC has one regular-season victory in the matchup, a 6-2 thrashing in group play of this year's MLS is Back Tournament.

LAFC (2-1-3, nine points) also eliminated the Galaxy from last year's MLS Cup playoffs. The teams have played to a tie three times, with the Galaxy unbeaten (1-0-2) in three regular-season visits to Banc of California Stadium.

The loss ended LAFC's 11-game regular-season unbeaten streak dating back to 2019.

Zubak, in his second career MLS start and sixth career game, delivered a header past LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer in the 26th minute. Cristian Pavon played a short corner kick to Julian Araujo, who struck a perfect centering pass off Zubak's head.

The Pavon-Araujo combination struck again to set up Lletget's goal in the 54th minute. Pavon sent a pass to the right of the penalty area to Araujo, who sent a centering pass to a charging Lletget for his first goal of the season.

"This win is for the fans that I know were watching us from their homes,'' Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos said. "It's weird, because we've never had this experience playing without fans. But we knew the fans were watching us. We knew that this game was really important for us, and I'm proud of my team. It's a new experience playing without fans, but I think everything depends on us.''

Vela was in the starting lineup for LAFC for the first time since March 8 after he opted out of the MLS is Back Tournament, but his day ended early.

Vela left the game in the 58th minute with what appeared to be a left leg injury, ending his streak of 11 consecutive MLS games with a goal. It was the second longest goal-scoring streak in MLS history. Atlanta United FC's Josef Martinez scored a goal in 15 consecutive regular-season games.

"We'll need at least a day or two to fully assess, but just before that play he took a shot, the shot was blocked," LAFC coach Bob Bradley said after the game. "So, that is usually an MCL-type situation so that's what we will look at in the next day or two.

"It's great to have him back, but when I said we didn't have any who played well today, Carlos didn't play well at all today. He wasn't active, he wasn't dangerous, he looked like someone who hadn't played a game in a long time."

Zubak's start came with Galaxy forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez still recovering from a calf injury that occurred during the MLS is Back Tournament.

Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham made three saves in the shutout, his 17th in three seasons with the Galaxy and the 44th of his MLS career.

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