Steve Carrillo

With solid win over Minnesota, Galaxy control their own fate

The LA Galaxy scored two second-half goals within a minute of each other as they pulled away from Minnesota United by a final score of 3-1 on Sunday afternoon in the final MLS game played at TCF Bank Stadium.

Even a state of Minnesota record crowd for a soccer game (52,242) couldn’t keep the Loons in the game as likely Galaxy MVP Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 22nd goal of the season, and his fifth in as many games, in the first half as the Galaxy took control of the Game.

It was Rolf Feltscher who came to the rescue as a ball was recycled toward the right side of Minnesota’s box. Feltscher’s cross found Ibrahimovic unmarked in the box and the six-foot-five Swede simply headed the ball past goalkeeper Matthew Lampson and into the net in the 30th-minute.

With the goal, Ibrahimovic joined MLS legend Roy Lassiter (father or Galaxy player Ari Lassiter) as the only other MLS player with two 5-game goal-scoring streaks in the same season.

The Galaxy, coming out of halftime with some energy, would score twice more in the second half in a string of events that would see striker Ola Kamara almost score twice in the span of seconds.

His initial shot was lofted over the goalkeeper and cleared off the line by defender Michael Boxall after a beautiful pass from Ibrahimovic. But when the ball came back out after some more Galaxy possession, it was defender Ashley Cole who squared the ball to Kamara to give the Galaxy the 2-0 lead in the 50th-minute.

On the ensuing kick off, Sebastian Lleget was able to strip possession from the Loons and turn the ball over to Ibrahimovic. His cross, which was inch-perfect, ran into the swinging left foot of Romain Alessandrini who full-volleyed the ball into the lower left-hand corner of the net in the 51st-minute of play.

The Kamara and Alessandrini’s goals came just 83 seconds apart from each other and tallied Kamara’s 12th goal of the season while Alessandrini scored his 11th. For Cole’s part, he now has nine assists on the season giving him the most assists in the league by a defender. Ibrahimovic tallied his 10th assist of the season.

But the Galaxy would concede a goal quickly after when Dave Romney and Daniel Steres — both of whom had a strong defensive outing against Minnesota — would get caught allowing Minnesota striker Angelo Rodriguez too much space. In the end, it was a Darwin Quintero’s cross that found Rodriguez for their only goal of the game in the 53rd-minute. Rodriguez was able to split the two center-backs and bury his header past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham.

And while the midfield of the Galaxy won’t show up on the scoresheet, their work rate sealed the game for the Galaxy. Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos did extremely well on the afternoon to limit dangerous chances and were able to keep Minnesota from breaking through the middle of the formation. Instead, the two midfielders forced the Loons outside where Emmanuel Boateng did some of his best defensive work of the season.

Dos Santos, who’s been playing his best soccer of the year in the last couple of games, was particularly adept at turning into space in the center of the field and then combining with Lletget to work the ball forward. Especially when it came to killing the game off in the second half.

And for all the talk of the atrocious playing surface, the Galaxy did well to avoid any obvious injuries. Although Ibrahimovic — who played all 90 minutes in the game — did roll on the plastic grass more than once during the game due to some late tackles and chippy Minnesota play.

And the good news didn’t stop with the Galaxy’s win.

With other results around the league, particularly the 3-0 loss by Real Salt Lake at the Portland Timbers, the Galaxy now control their own fate going into Sunday’s matchup with the Houston Dynamo.

The game, set to be played at StubHub Center on the October 28th (1:30 p.m.), would allow the Galaxy a chance at advancing to the MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory over the visiting Dynamo. Anything less than three points, though, would see RSL advance instead (note: If RSL and Galaxy tie on points — meaning the Galaxy only draw against Houston — RSL would advance on the first tiebreaker which is the number of wins).

For a team that has see-sawed its way back and forth from contention on the season, the recent run of form could be a precursor to postseason success if they can get there. Especially after a gritty 1-1 draw vs Sporting KC 15 days prior to this game.

Dominic Kinnear has this Galaxy team feeling confident, and while they’ll need to rest their bruised bodies from playing on that hard surface, the club should be feeling they’ve found a magic formula for beating teams on a regular basis; score goals, and defend as a team.

And while it’s a simplistic approach, the Galaxy will take “simple” all the way to MLS Cup if they have the choice.