LA Galaxy believe they've turned a corner after posting huge win

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy sent a message to the rest of Major League Soccer in Sunday night's explosive romp over Sporting Kansas City: Watch out.

They put away a half-dozen second-half chances en route to a 7-2 triumph that pushed them from eighth to fifth place in the Western Conference, on target to claim their first playoff berth in three seasons, and did so with remarkable aplomb.

“Everybody,” Zlatan Ibrahimovic proclaimed when it was over, “should fear us.”

The Galaxy (14-13-3) hadn't scored as many goals since an 8-1 dismantling of Dallas some 21 years ago and had offered only glimpses of their attacking prowess, with nowhere near the precision, during an up-and-down (and down) campaign that was spiraling out of control.

The creativity and efficiency of the attack, marshaled primarily by Cristian Pavon and punctuated by Ibrahimovic's second hat trick of the season, followed an often stormy four and a half months that had imperiled a campaign that had started so brightly, with a 7-1-1 record through April. They'd gone 6-12-2 since, before Sunday's onslaught.

“I think we have to play like this,” Uriel Antuna, who netted the fourth goal with a nice effort on a deflected shot from Pavon and assisted Sebastian Lletget's second late header. “This is the team, who we are.”

This is the team LA have envisioned themselves to be but struggled to become, and they expressed confidence afterward that they can sustain this kind of play. Pavon's arrival from Boca Juniors last month has been transformative, providing dimensions LA has missed since Romain Alessandrini went down with a knee injury in April.

“I think at this point, it's not even about ability. It's just the mentality,” Lletget said. “Ibra talks about it a lot. And I think today we definitely pulled together and had that killer instinct and executed. We always get there, but sometimes we don't score. ...

“This is huge. This has definitely given us confidence. We know how good we can play at times, and we just have to keep doing it more.”

The Galaxy's potency made a difference.

“I think today we were very efficient,” head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “Sometimes we couldn't be efficient [this year]. Sometimes we tie or lost a game, but I felt like in the last five or six games we are [playing] better. ... Sometimes happens we manage the ball, and we can be efficient like today.”

It was important that Ibrahimovic, who has 26 of LA's 49 goals, wasn't the only finisher. No other Galaxy player had more than three goals beforehand, so teams knew if they could stop the big Swede from scoring, they could stop the Galaxy.

“It adds another element to our game,” said Lletget, whose goals were his second and third of the year. “Ibra attracts a lot of markers, and [that leads to] a lot of opportunities for other guys. We have to take advantage of that. ... We need others to contribute, for sure.”

Ibrahimovic loved watching Lletget, Antuna and Joe Corona, with his first MLS goal, put the ball in the net.

“I think the confidence [is the biggest thing we get from this performance],” aid Ibrahimovic, who broke Carlos Ruiz's 17-year-old club record for goals in a season with his second tally Sunday. “The confidence in scoring a couple of goals, and even the other players scoring, so they also get that confidence and feel that they're involved. So it's not only like if I get it, that I can score. Everybody can score. It's easy.”

They might need such potency. The chief aim is securing their Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs spot, and that quest isn't done.

“When you score seven goals in one game, you feel like you will [get to the playoffs],” Schelotto said. “We need to play next game with Montreal and win. The last four games, we need to try to win the most games we can.”

They're just two points above eighth-place FC Dallas and must maneuver through four more games -- at home Saturday against the Montreal Impact, followed by a trip to Real Salt Lake, a home game with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and the Decision Day presented by AT&T finale at the Houston Dynamo – to get there.

If they get there, they say, watch out.

“Once we're in the playoffs, anything can happen ...,” Ibrahimovic said. 

“We've shown everybody when we want, we can do it. Everybody should fear us, as long as we [qualify for] the playoffs. That's the only thing we need to catch now.”

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