Don’t lose faith.
That was the message Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez delivered after the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake in Week 28. The Mexican superstar equalized in the 76th minute, but it wasn’t enough to prevent LA from reaching eight games without a win.
A 95th-minute golazo from RSL forward Anderson Julio kept Los Angelinos from gathering any points, sinking them to sixth place in the West standings as their grasp on any of the conference's seven Audi MLS Cup Playoff places continues to slip.
“I want to quickly take responsibility, because, of course, I have very high standards for myself and I ask for myself even more than this,” Chicharito said afterward. “And I told the guys in the locker room that’s the LA Galaxy. You can be playing incredible for 85, 86, 87 minutes. But then in two minutes, everything can change. That's the pressure. That’s the commitment. That’s the responsibility. That’s the effort that this club requires from you.”
The pressure ramps up Sunday (8 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes), as LA will partake in this year’s third El Trafico against LAFC – this time at home after a wild 3-3 draw as part of Heineken Rivalry Week in late August.
LAFC, just like the Galaxy, will be entering with three straight losses in tow. Bob Bradley’s team is ninth in the West and fighting for their playoff life, only adding to the air of desperation that’ll surely be evident at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Chicharito, for one, recognizes the weight of Sunday’s clash.
“We are just one result away to change this momentum for sure,” Chicharito said. “I believe in my club. I believe in this organization. I believe in my teammates. I believe in myself. LA Galaxy supporters, it sounds very cliché, but there's nothing else we can do.
“We are the first ones that we are very hurt in the dressing room. We are the first one who are pointing fingers to try to improve. Every single one of us. Tomorrow, we're going to rest and then prepare the other game because we know how it means for all of you and for all of us. So I just want to make clear that we are responsible.”
The Galaxy, five-time MLS Cup champions, made the playoffs just once (2019) from 2017-20. Their postseason cushion has been reduced to four points, increasing the pressure around head coach Greg Vanney’s first season in charge.
They’ve nearly entirely overhauled the roster, signing 17 new players for this season. But heading into Sunday’s El Trafico, a massive result is needed – perhaps setting aside aesthetics or style.
“For me, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a big lesson, a turning point for this group, because I feel a different energy in the locker room right now than I've ever felt this entire season,” Vanney said. “I hope it is because this group laid out an incredible effort today.”