It was a game of firsts in which we saw Ethan Zubak bag his first career goal, the first time a shutout was recorded in an El Trafico, and the first time the visiting team walked away victorious in this young rivalry.
The Galaxy played a physical game which seemed to throw LAFC out of their rhythm. The team defense was relentless with their pressure on the ball, forcing errant passes in addition to blocking and deflecting shots and crosses.
Although they were out possessed throughout the match, the offense made their moments count with goals coming from a set piece and on the counter attack.
This was, without a doubt, the Galaxy’s most complete match of the season from start to finish and a win in this rivalry game could be a turning point for the squad after the worst start in club history.
Let’s take a look at who cracked open the vault and stole three points from the Banc:
TOP OF THE CLASS
Sebastian Lletget will get man of the match accolades for scoring the security goal and making several key passes in the attacking half of the field.
This is the Lletget that we have been waiting to see, pushing forward and not shying away from the opportunity when it presents itself in front of the goal.
Lletget did take a few moments to adjust to the game, but eventually he found himself making many of the right choices that contributed to the Galaxy’s success on the day.
Lletget also shared in the post game press conference that the result in Orlando inspired the team go into this game with a chip on their shoulder by saying, “We knocked them off their high horse. 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 team will benefit from Lletget playing a more aggressive role if he can continue with these types of performances.
Cristian Pavon was once again the focal point of the Galaxy offense and was all over the field making plays on offense and defense.
It seemed like the only thing Pavon was unable to do was find the back of the net, but he still managed to end up on the stat sheet with two secondary assists on the afternoon.
The MLS assists are indicative of Pavon’s importance as it highlights that even when the goal contributions are not coming from him, most of the goal contributions will come through him.
A goal would’ve sealed man of the match honors, but the Galaxy definitely would not have come out on top without the work rate of the young Argentine.
Julian Araujo is finding a niche as the choice right midfielder for Guillermo Barros Schelotto in El Trafico showdowns.
If Pavon is to be applauded for his secondary assists, Araujo needed to be applauded for his direct assists which found Zubak and Lletget perfectly in stride.
In addition to setting up the goals, Araujo also showed the fight that the Galaxy lacked in Orlando.
This was most prominently on display during a dead ball situation in the 48th minute when Araujo found himself surrounded by four LAFC players who were trying to push him off the ball. Araujo was not having it as he snapped back in the scum and showed that even though he is only 19 years old, his is not backing down from anyone.
Moments like this won’t show up on the stat sheet, but they will tell you why so many people are excited to watch Araujo continue to develop here in Los Angeles.
Speaking of youngsters who are looking to make waves in the starting lineup, Nick Depuy had himself another great performance and continues to make a case to be the regular starting center back alongside Daniel Steres.
Depuy found a way to put himself in the right place at the right time to help secure the first shutout in El Trafico history.
But this wasn’t luck, Depuy chased down balls and frustrated the highly touted darlings of MLS for 90 minutes plus.
Big, strong, and consistent. General Manager Dennis Te Kloese may have the center back he is looking for right in front of him. It may not be a fluke that the Galaxy only gave up multiple goals in matches in which Depuy did not start.
After securing a shutout against the crosstown rivals, you may be asking yourself, what does David Bingham have to do to earn a five star rating?
The easy answer is that he probably needs to make more than just three saves. Bingham faced only a fraction of the shots that he faced in the previous match against LAFC.
While the back line and defensive midfielders deserve just as much credit for the shutout, Bingham did his job and made his saves when was called upon.
This may be the confidence boost that Bingham needs after the Galaxy signed a goalkeeper earlier in the week.
Perry Kitchen mentioned in a post-game Instagram post that the team “Proved a lot of people wrong” and as one of his biggest detractors this season, he definitely disproved my perception that Kitchen isn’t an asset to this team.
Kitchen was the midfield “destroyer” in this match that he found success playing in previous seasons with Galaxy prior to a groin injury that kept him out for an extended period of time.
On several occasions LAFC would look to break on offense and instead found themselves being folded by Kitchen.
With Jonathan Dos Santos nursing an injury, Kitchen will need to stay ready and continue to bring his bite to the game to shut other teams down around the league down.
The MLS is Back tournament left a sour taste with many LA Galaxy supporters, particularly with the absence of Javier Hernandez.
Ethan Zubak did not impress in the start against Houston and left a big question at the striker position until Hernandez is healthy again.
Zubak then went on to make up for his prior performance by coming up huge in the perhaps the biggest moment of his career.
His header in the 26th minute served a punch in the mouth to LAFC and gave the Galaxy the confidence they needed after being considered heavy underdogs coming into the match.
While Zubak still isn’t the answer up top for the Galaxy, he showed that he is capable of living up to the big moment and can provide a depth option when it’s needed.
Jonathan Dos Santos returned to the team after missing the tournament in Orlando due to rehab for a hernia surgery.
It was good to see Dos Santos on the field again and he looks to benefit from getting competitive minutes in league play.
Dos Santos did well to connect on passes and hold possession when needed.
The Galaxy captain finds himself on the “Needs Improvement” category not because of any faults, but because he self admittedly isn’t fully match fit and will look to improve with both his time on the field and contributions to the game.
Efrain Alvarez was limited in his minutes, but did have an opportunity to add to the goal tally and ended up falling short.
I am still not seeing how Alvarez will be a major contributor to the first team.
It may be cruel to give Alvarez a low grade for only being on the field for 14 minutes, but in my opinion, if Schelotto does not see Alvarez as a regular starter or earlier option as a sub, then Alvarez will really need to “wow” the coaching staff in his limited minutes.
He currently is not proving to be a threat off the bench.
After his stoicism on the sideline in Orlando and rumors of leaving for an international coaching position, there were several questions about Guillermo Barros Schelotto leading into this next phase of league play.
Schelotto seemed to silence the critics for the moment as the players looked to have all of the answers to LAFC’s advances.
Tactically, he had the right player selection to counter his opponents in addition to having the players motivated and putting pressure at the right moments.
Schelotto’s game plan was effective and we will see if he can continue these types of performances through the next five games.
If we are to pick knits with Schelotto, it is that he is still reluctant to dig into his bench to give his players rest, in particular with the adverse weather conditions and in anticipation of a midweek game against the reigning MLS Cup champions.
But overall, we saw a different, animated Schelotto on the sideline as evidenced by his yellow card earned in the final moments of the match.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.