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

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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.

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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.

Examining how the newly-shaped LA Galaxy could look with Zlatan

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be looking for a thank you from LA Galaxy supporters, but the former European icon will have to produce on the pitch before he warrants the sentiment.

The 36-year-old striker completed a long-awaited (about five years overdue) move to the Major League Soccer giants on Friday in a sensational switch that sent shockwaves around the globe.

[ MORE: United bid says MetLife Stadium would host 2026 World Cup final ]

Now, it’s just a matter of Ibra making his way to the United States, and finding the form that once made him known as the deadliest striker on the planet.

While his play at Manchester United this season has been far from stellar, a combination of injury and the introduction of Romelu Lukaku hurt the veteran’s chances of recapturing his success from 2016/17 (his first season at Old Trafford) — where Ibra notched 28 goals in all competitions.

Through all of his successes though, Zlatan has often times been considered a true number nine during his expansive career, and now the Swede will likely need to find a way to partner with another striker in the Galaxy starting XI.

Ola Kamara, who joined the Western Conference side in a high-profile trade this winter from the Columbus Crew, has been as good as any striker in MLS since coming to the U.S. in 2016.

“We’re going to have to try and figure that out,” Sigi Schmid told reporters after Saturday’s draw with the Whitecaps. “I didn’t want to think about that a whole lot [before Vancouver].

“I wanted to make sure we had this game plan right. I’ll probably throw some lineups or different formations on the board and see what I think works and what makes sense.

“But Ola’s an important player to our team, because of his ability to score goals and because of his ability to stretch the defense. At times Zlatan’s played very well with that kind of a player. I’m sure we can establish a connection and a combination there.”

Here’s a look at two possible formations the Galaxy could employ with Ibrahimovic and Kamara starting in the attack.


4-1-3-2

This scenario would sacrifice Perry Kitchen in the midfield to give the Galaxy a bigger attacking threat with the introduction of Zlatan.


3-2-3-2

This formation gives Schmid a bit more assurance in the midfield with a partnership of Kitchen and Jonathan dos Santos in the center. Meanwhile, there’s a more natural three in the back with Skjelvik, Ciani and Feltscher, and sends Ashley Cole to the bench. While it would be a tough decision for the manager, the former Premier Leaguer is more of a traditional left back in a flat four.