Associated Press

LA Galaxy handles Seattle Sounders 3-0 to close playoff gap

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There is plenty more work to be done for the LA Galaxy to complete the unlikely push for a playoff spot, but they passed a major hurdle with a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night at the StubHub Center.

Seattle suffered a 60-minute defensive nightmare, and was never able to recover. It all started just nine minutes in when Brad Smith needlessly barged into the back of Ola Kamara who was chasing down a ball on the right side of the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent Stefan Frei the wrong way with the ensuing penalty, and the Galaxy took the early lead.

Los Angeles found a second just before halftime as Ibrahimovic looked off the defense and then unlocked the back line with a burst forward on the left flank, feeding Romain Alessandrini through who burst towards the end line and crossed to Kamara for an easy tap-in just five minutes before the break.

Past halftime, the home side continued to dominate. Seattle held 55% possession, but failed to record a single shot on target until the 66th minute, finishing with just one among the 14 total attempts on net. LA would cash in on Seattle’s wastefulness for a 3-0 lead on a goal by Emmanuel Boateng in the 52nd minute and put the game out of sight.

The win lifts the Galaxy above the Vancouver Whitecaps and into 7th place in the Western Conference, with Vancouver’s loss to FC Dallas. They now sit just three points back of Seattle in the final playoff spot. The Sounders saw a nine-game winning streak and 12-game unbeaten streak snapped last time out against Philadelphia, and now the sudden slide could have devastating consequences should it continue.

LAFC blow another “El Trafico” lead, but hold on for a point

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The game in 100 words (or less): Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Los Angeles FC were absolutely cruising against the LA Galaxy on Thursday, but Bob Bradley‘s side completely capitulated late in the second half and blew a multi-goal lead. Yes, it happened again, only this time LAFC managed to hold on for a point at home. Carlos Vela and Lee Nguyen established the expansion side’s 2-0 lead after just 20 minutes, and it held firm until the game’s final 10 minutes. The Galaxy didn’t register their first shot on target until the 67th minute, but Romain Alessandrini and Ola Kamara snatched goals in the 82nd and 86th minutes. It’s a massive result for the Galaxy, who move to within a point of Sporting Kansas City for third place in the Western Conference, and a bitter pill to swallow for LAFC, who could have moved to within a single point of West-leading FC Dallas. Sporting KC hosts FCD on Saturday.

[ MORE: Peru star Raul Ruidiaz gets first MLS goal; Sounders win ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

7′ — Vela heads home from close range — Vela-to-Adam Diomande is the more likelier sequence of play that will frequently lead to a headed goal, but this time it was the other way around as the big Norweigan whipped a ball into the six-yard box for his Mexican superstar teammate to finish with aplomb (WATCH HERE).

20′ — Nguyen beats Bingham with a free kick for 2-0 — Mark-Anthony Kaye suffered what could be a serious ankle or achilles injury upon winning this free kick. Kaye would be a massive loss — and an unexpected one, at that — but Nguyen made the most of a potentially dire situation (WATCH HERE).

82′ — Alessandrini smashes past Miller to make it 2-1 — Nobody really closed him down, and Alessandrini made the most of the space he was afforded. Comeback: on.

83′ — Miller pulls off a spectacular save a minute later — It should have been 2-2, but Tyler Miller probably won Save of the Year with his denial of Kamara just seconds after Alessandrini’s goal.

86′ — Kamara pounces on a tragic mistake for 2-2 — Miller’s save was, ultimately, mostly for naught, as Andre Horta marked his LAFC and MLS debut with the worst back-pass you’re likely to see this season. Kamara pounced, and Sigi Schmid’s side was level despite offering next to nothing all night long.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tyler Miller

Goalscorers: Vela (7′), Nguyen (20′), Alessandrini (82′), Kamara (86′)

Surging Galaxy ride Ibrahimovic magic to 3-1 win (video)

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a man on fire, and the LA Galaxy are rounding into form.

The Galaxy overcame an early deficit in Chester to clobber the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Saturday behind a goal and an assist from their world-class striker.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

Romain Alessandrini had two assists, while Michael Ciani and Ola Kamara also scored for LA. CJ Sapong scored for Philly, assisted by Borek Dockal.

Unbeaten-in-seven LA moves into fourth in the West with the win, while Philadelphia remains three points back of sixth in the East.

Ibrahimovic has now scored in six of his last seven matches, and has 12 goals and two assists in 21 matches overall.

Let’s start with the assist, which we must’ve seen two dozen times when the big Swede was with Paris Saint-Germain.

Ibrahimovic takes a difficult pass out of the air with absurd touch, then waits for the right time to send an impeccable through ball into the path of Kamara.

As for the goal, you almost feel for Mark McKenzie.

The Union’s Homegrown defender has to choose between Alessandrini darting into his box and allowing Ibrahimovic a lick of space.

He gives it, understandably, then rushes to close down Ibrahimovic.

It wasn’t fast enough. Boom.

MLS Three Things: Portland, Atlanta stay hot; Galaxy not-so-much

AP Photo/Josie Lepe
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Big names young and old were part of Saturday night’s late MLS scoreboard, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ola Kamara, Ezequiel Barco, and Diego Valeri all featuring in the scoring.

[ MORE MLS: NY is Red, Piatti on fire ]

Barco on the board as Five Stripes go first

Ezequiel Barco is one of the most talked about buys in recent history, and Atlanta United’s 19-year-old Argentine is on the board.

Barco scored in his fourth MLS appearance and third start, running into the left side of the box to meet the fine work of Miguel Almiron and turn a shot inside the near post.

Atlanta moves two points clear of NYCFC for first place in the East, and the Five Stripes have played one fewer match than its rival. Its 2.44 points-per-game is nearly a half-point more than the closest competitors (NYCFC, Orlando City, Sporting KC, and LAFC).

Red-hot Valeri makes it three-straight for Savarese’s Portland 

Diego Valeri stayed red hot in artistic fashion, spinning this critical free kick home to record his fourth goal of the season as Portland continued its brutal, away-heavy opening run to the season on Saturday.

The 32-year-old celebrated his birthday week (May 1) by making it four goals and three assists in his last five matches, as Portland has now won three-straight for new boss Gio Savarese.

The Timbers have played just two of eight matches at home, with Saturday providing their first away win. Savarese’s men are 3W-3L-2T. That’s outside the Top Six on goal differential, but two points shy of third as the West works on sorting itself out.

The loss gives coach Mikael Stahre the worst points-per-game in this early season, as the Quakes sit 11th out West.

Galaxy keep allowing (a lot of) goals

Sigi Schmid will be fuming after his LA Galaxy wasted a pair of equalizer when Jose Rodriguez scored a 90th minute goal to give the Houston Dynamo a 3-2 win on Saturday.

The Galaxy have lost four of five matches since their stunning late win on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s debut.

But Houston will be relieved, picking up a third win in five home matches to move above the red line and into sixth place despite tossing aside two leads. Romell Quioto had a goal and an assist for the Dynamo, the helper coming on Alejandro Fuenmayor’s second minute opener.

For the Galaxy, Giovani Dos Santos had a goal and an assist, Ola Kamara also scored, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic recorded an assist in the loss.

Kamara claimed the blame for Houston’s first goal, and said LA has “to be harder to beat.”

We could show the Marx Brothers’ level bad fortune defending of Houston’s winner, but instead we’ll show some close to vintage Ibrahimovic spatial awareness as he got the hockey assist on Kamara’s late and brief equalizer.

Elsewhere
Sporting KC 1-0 Colorado Rapids
LAFC 1-1 FC Dallas
Columbus Crew 0-0 Seattle Sounders

LA Galaxy sign Norwegian striker Ola Kamara to 3-year deal

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File
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CARSON, Calif. (AP) The LA Galaxy have signed striker Ola Kamara to a three-year contract.

The Galaxy announced the deal Wednesday after the Norwegian forward’s first four games with his new club.

Kamara scored 34 goals in the previous two seasons with the Columbus Crew, ranking third in the league during that span. Only David Villa and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored more MLS goals.

The 28-year-old Kamara joined the Galaxy in January in a trade for underachieving striker Gyasi Zardes.

The Galaxy are hanging onto Kamara despite acquiring superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic last month. Ibrahimovic is signed through next season.

Kamara played professionally in Norway, Germany and Austria before moving to MLS in February 2016.