It took some doing, but the LA Galaxy managed to cough up a stunning 4-3 home loss to the last-place Vancouver Whitecaps at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday, jeopardizing the Galaxy's prospects of a top-four seeding in the Western Conference of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Whitecaps center back Doneil Henry gave the visitors a shock early lead, beating Diego Polenta to Inbeom Hwang's corner-kick delivery to the back post and bundling it past Matt Lampson. The Galaxy responded within minutes, renewing the now-familiar Cristian Pavon-Zlatan Ibrahimovic connection on a quick transition as the Argentinean ran at Jasser Khmiri and centered for his superstar Swedish teammate to finish.
But Vancouver snuck in front again shortly before halftime, as Homegrown Theo Bair latched on to the loose ball and clipped it underneath Lampson after a Michaell Chirinos shot was blocked into a dangerous spot inside LA's penalty box.
The seesawing continued after the break. Uriel Antuna chipped a gorgeously-executed volley over Maxime Crepeau to level matters again, only for Tosaint Ricketts to nip between the Galaxy's center backs and nod Erik Godoy's pinpoint cross into the bottom corner.
LA pulled even yet again in the dying minutes when substitute Chris Pontius scurried onto Ibra's flick-on header and side-footed home. But they still managed to throw away a costly three points when their back line were caught woefully out of position in injury time, allowing Fredy Montero to play Inbeom clear into acres of space, sparking a jailbreak transition that ended with Chirinos firing the ball into the back of the Galaxy's net.
- 20' – VAN – Doneil Henry | WATCH
- 23' – LA – Zlatan Ibrahimovic | WATCH
- 41' – VAN – Theo Bair | WATCH
- 58' – LA – Uriel Antuna | WATCH
- 64' – VAN – Tosaint Ricketts | WATCH
- 86' – LA – Chris Pontius | WATCH
- 90+3' – VAN – Michaell Chirinos | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: After winning three in a row to clinch a playoff spot, the Galaxy's Jekyll-and-Hyde tendencies cropped up once again, with a relapse into the slipshod defending, wastefulness in front of goal and pronounced over-reliance on crosses dooming them to defeat. Vancouver, meanwhile, gave their fans something to enjoy at the tail end of a trying campaign of transition and frustration.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Plenty of competition for this honor, but we'll pick the "next goal wins" play that decided this topsy-turvy slugfest...
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Hwang Inbeom bagged three assists, another skilled and resourceful display to remind the 'Caps that they have a classy box-to-box schemer to build around next season.