The Galaxy's blowout loss one month ago in Orlando was clearly on the Galaxy's minds as they prepared for Saturday's rematch with LAFC, and after a 2-0 revenge win – their first three-point haul of the season – LA were happy to restore some parity to El Trafico.
“We knocked them off their high horse,” said Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget. “I know they did what they did in Orlando to us, but we have to focus on now and hopefully we shut them up a little bit.”
The Galaxy could be forgiven for feeling effusive after this one. Not only did they avenge a historic 6-2 defeat to their rivals, they did so without Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez in the squad and Jonathan dos Santos coming off the bench, while free-scoring LAFC welcomed back Carlos Vela, who didn't feature in Orlando. The stage seemed set for another blowout at Banc of California Stadium, but it turned out to be anything but.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto's men marshaled LAFC's potent attack, with temperatures in L.A. rising past the 90-degree mark. Vela, playing his first game in five months, looked like a shell of the player who scored 34 goals in 2019 – and then left the game with an injury just before the hour mark. The Galaxy held their rivals to three shots on goal – the fewest in club history at home – and found a goal on either side of halftime, exploiting some slack LAFC defending.
“Today was a wonderful game because we had two goals, they didn’t have any clear chances and we could have gotten the third goal,” said Barros Schelotto.
Though Barros Schelotto reiterated his belief that the LA Galaxy were the better team for about 70 minutes of that blowout in Orlando, he singled out one key ingredient that was different this go-around. There was the fight that he publicly said his team lacked in that MLS is Back meeting, while he also highlighted contributions from his younger charges.
“I am very proud of the players we put on the pitch today, not because of their age, but because they deserved to play. Players with not a lot of experience like [Julian] Araujo, Nick [Depuy], Efrain [Alvarez] in the second half, I am very happy for them,” he said. “I am very proud of the team because they fought, and everyone knows we are coming from Orlando where we lost 6-2 against them.”
The turnaround didn't come at the snap of a finger, though. The weeks leading up to Saturday's match included some of the most intense training sessions Galaxy players have experienced in quite some time.
“There’s a lot that went into it, for sure," said Galaxy forward Ethan Zubak, who bagged his first career MLS goal in the win. “This was obviously the first win of the season and it’s amazing to do it against our rival, but I think it’s been building up for a while. I think that the mentality after Orlando is that we know that we have the right tools to do great things and so everyone got together and made an effort to train even harder.
“After today’s win, the vibe in the locker room was amazing. We are ecstatic and we are just hungry for more games now. Hopefully this is the start of some great things."