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Once upon a time in Hollywood

LA Galaxy and Sporting KC play to a sloppy 2-2 draw in Dignity Health Park in Carson, California. MLS recap.



Alan Pulido, Sporting KC
Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City headed west to California like Tom Joad looking to get back on the winning track after a disappointed result over the weekend against LAFC. This time, they took to LaLa Land errr… Carson, CA to face an MLS original, the LA Galaxy. Sporting KC fielded a mostly ideal starting XI. Andreu Fontas and Danny Rosero started at centerback and Remi Walter, Erik Thommy, and Nemanja Radoja anchored the midfield. Unfortunately, Gadi Kinda was not available off the bench as his wife just gave birth to their first child (Mazel tov, Gadi!). Up top, Sporting started Daniel Salloi, Alan Pulido, and Khiry Shelton. The Galaxy was severely depleted with Chicharito losing his season to an ACL injury and Dejan Jovelic on international duty. Preston Judd got the start for only the second time in his MLS career for the Galaxy at the 9.


The early moments of the match saw the Galaxy attacking and earning a corner in the first minute. A haze settled over the pitch and it’s unclear to this writer whether it was from the pre-match fireworks or the famous smog that Los Angeles offers its residents and visitors.

In the 4th minute a ball over the top down the right side sent Khiry Shelton racing against Chris Mavinga into the box. Mavinga attempted to shield Shelton off the ball, and he tumbled into the LA keeper, Bond. In the aftermath, Khiry drew the official’s ire but no card. It was truly an award-winning performance from the center referee playing the part of angry man.

In the minutes that followed both teams exchanged periods of possession with the visitors looking much livelier and more dangerous. Sporting continued to make passes and runs into the box with the final touch missing.

At the start of the 11th minute, Jake Davis found Khiry Shelton for a low cross from the right flank. Shelton’s cross found the foot of Alan Pulido who ripped at shot at the far post that flew just wide.

A Los Angeles turnover in the midfield led to the opening goal of the match in the 12th minute. Alan Pulido collected the ball and found Daniel Salloi on the left. Daniel played the ball wide to Erik Thommy who whipped in a perfect cross to Alan Pulido who finished with his head. Pulido’s sixth goal of the season led to the campfire celebration and Sporting was up 1-0. Thommy’s cross was 95% fresh on my Tomatometer and 99% fresh with the audience scores factored in.

Sporting continued to press their advantage in the minutes following Pulido’s goal. The visitors triggered their press to create midfield turnovers and attack on the break. In the 17th minute, Sporting KC forced another turnover in the midfield and looked to break but Tim Leibold’s square ball to Alan Pulido ran just behind the designated player and SKC had to recycle possession. After a sloppy touch from Erik Thommy, Gaston Brugmann stole the ball, and the players began a footrace along the touchline. Thommy slid to tackle the ball away and took down too much of the man, earning a yellow card for his trouble.

Sporting pressed the issue again in the 21st minute when Khiry Shelton put a low cross through the box. The ball eventually made its way to Daniel Salloi whose shot was put out for Sporting’s second corner of the night. The ensuring corner was headed out by LA and Sporting immediately had another set piece chance. Erik Thommy played the ball long and found a wide-open Danny Rosero, but he was unable to get enough on his header and it was saved easily by Bond. Jonathan, Bond. Immediately after, Preston Judd and his awful haircut got accidentally clipped by Danny Rosero while making a diagonal run outside the box. He tripped and fell, Rosero earned a yellow, and Douglas Costa served a ball into the far post where Martin Caceres was unmarked and headed the ball into the far corner of the net.

Dany Rosero will be suspended Saturday against the Chicago Fire for yellow card accumulation.

Sporting almost immediately conceded again after a turnover led to an attacking chance for LA. Luckily Riqui Puig’s shot flew wide of the post. In the 28th minute Tim Leibold hit a big switch to a wide-open Erik Thommy at the top of the box. Thommy brought the ball down and hit a screamer of a shot that flew just wide.

A heavy touch from Khiry Shelton led to a midfield turnover and the Galaxy broke into the attacking third. In the 33rd minute the Galaxy earned their second corner of the night. Douglas Costa’s corner found the head of someone, and the ball bounced off the crossbar. Initially the officials ruled that Kendall McIntosh would take a goal kick but after a series of what can lightly be described as kvetching, the call was reversed, and the Galaxy took another corner. A true masterclass in complaining.

Erik Thommy had a go from well outside the box, but the ball was easily saved by Jonathan Bond. Despite being a Galaxy player, he’s still a better Bond than George Lazenby.  The following minutes found the Galaxy attacking and earning multiple corner kicks that resulted in nothing.

LA thought they had another dangerous attacking play when Preston Judd and his bad haircut were played in with a through ball. Andreu Fontas called for offside, but the flag stayed down. The attack fizzled with Tyler Boyd yanked Danny Rosero down after the defender was able to establish position and cut off the attacker.

Remi Walter forced a turnover deep in Galaxy territory and found Daniel Salloi in the box. The Hungarian Assassin juked a defender, cut inside, and ripped a shot that was surely headed for the net but was blocked by a sliding Galaxy defender. Almost immediately after, Nemanja Radoja – whose name has been mispronounced all evening – stepped in for a gorgeous interception in the midfield. His through ball to Erik Thommy had just a little too much pace and was cleared for a deep throw in by the Galaxy. After a period of possession, a poor clearance from Mavinga found Radoja just outside the box who struck the ball on a half volley. His shot went just wide, and the teams remained level with minutes remaining in the half.

In the 45th minute, Erik Thommy showed a lovely bit of technique, doing a quasi Cruff-turn to leave his defender in the dust. He found Pulido in the box but the ball was eventually kicked into the air. Douglas Costa fouled Radoja, which led to one final set piece to end the half. The ensuing shot from Sporting KC flew harmlessly wide and the method acting angry referee blew his whistle to signal halftime.

At halftime Sporting KC led the expected goals tally with 1.06 to 0.46. Unfortunately, xG only counts when we talk about how pretty the soccer is but the score remained 1-1. The Galaxy led on possession 51% to 49%. Sporting led on shots 10-3 with three shots on goal to LA’s one. Both teams had over 200 passes with SKC leading the passing accuracy stats 88% to 86%. The Galaxy were only whistled for three fouls, the visitors for five with two of those being yellow cards.

At some point Apple TV showed us the supporter’s cam and I was disappointed to see not a single Pink’s hotdog being slammed by one of the Carson faithful.


In the 49th minute the referee was struck with the ball for the second time in the match leading to a LA drop ball. I only note this because the half started unremarkably and you don’t often see officials being struck with the ball.

In the 50th minute, Erik Thommy played a ball over the top for Alan Pulido who was able to cross the ball to Salloi. Unfortunately for Sporting, nothing came of the beautiful passing combination. LA then raced down the right flank and Tyler Boyd played a dangerous cross through the six yard box. Preston Judd and his awful hair cut were unable to get to the ball and it rolled all the way across the field and out of bounds for a Kansas City throw in.

The next few minutes were about as boring as the movie Blindness. Since nothing of consequence happened during this stretch, allow me to tell you about this awful movie. Starring Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore, the film tells the story of a pandemic that causes blindness amongst a certain population. The folks who are blinded are then rounded up and put into camps to prevent their disease from infecting those who can still see. Typical events happen from there. Society decays and things get ugly. But then, suddenly they all regain their sight.

In the 60th minute, Preston Judd’s awful haircut broke free after a bad turnover and a great through ball from Puig. Judd pulled Fontas down by his shoulders and was whistled for a foul. The striker, either unable to hear the official’s whistle, or perhaps indifferent, continued in on goal and slotted the ball past McIntosh. He then celebrated like he was Lionel Messi before throwing up his hands in disgust at the official’s call.

The first substitution of the match came in the 62nd minute when Julian Aude made way for Raheem Edwards.

LA took the lead in the 64th minute when Preston Judd’s awful haircut cushioned the ball perfectly off his head and into the net. Puig got the ball in open space and Judd ran free off the back shoulder of Fontas for a wide-open diving header.

As the Galaxy faithful celebrated, Johnny F’ing Russell entered the match for Khiry Shelton. Nemanja Radoja was then called for a foul in the midfield for catching Puig in the face with an errant arm. Puig, famously won an Academy Award for not only his simulating injuries, but for his supporting role in “Honey, I shrunk the midfielder.”

Sporting Kansas City’s frustrations began to grow as they picked up a series of chippy fouls and were unable to break down the deep block defense of the Galaxy. Sporting continued to press to find an equalizer but were unable to break down the defense. A turnover led to a 2v2 break where Riqui Puig found Preston Judd’s awful hair in space behind Andreu Fontas. His cross found a wide-open Tyler Boyd who smashed his shot off the crossbar. Sporting Kansas City entered the 74 minute lucky to still only have a one goal deficit.

Both teams made their next substitutions in the 75th minute. Douglas Costa was substituted for Daniel Aguirre, and Preston Judd’s awful hair was replaced by Aaron Bibout. Peter Vermes then sent Roger Espinoza in for Erik Thommy.

In the 80th minute, Riqui Puig found a bit of space in transition and ripped a curler towards the top corner of the net. Fortunately (again) for Sporting Kansas City, the score remained 2-1. Immediately afterwards, Johnny Russell found himself open on the receiving end of a Jake Davis cross. His point-blank shot was right at Jonathan Bond. Martin Caceres then went down with an injury for a few minutes and was substituted for Kelvin Leerdam. LA used the final substitution window to also bring on Mauricio Cuevas for Tyler Boyd.

As the clock ticked away, the Galaxy employed the dark arts as if they were taught at Hogwarts. Knowing that the angry center referee would not add back all the time they wasted, LA took their time with restarts and goal kicks.

Sporting KC earned a dangerous set piece in the 89th minute when Remi Walter was wiped out by Kelvin Leerdam just outside the box. The ensuing set piece by Johnny Russell was blocked. He collected the rebound and drove to the endline before chipping a cross back across the area. The ball found Remi Walter who smashed the ball towards goal. The ball was knocked down by the outstretched arm of Aguirre and the referee pointed to the spot. Alan Pulido drilled home his penalty kick and leveled the score at 2-2 in the first minute of stoppage time. Much like his last penalty kick goal, the keeper guessed correctly against Pulido but was unable to parry the shot away.

Midway through stoppage time, Chris Mavinga brought down Johnny Russell with a textbook rugby tackle. The Sporting KC set piece went nowhere, and LA collected the ball. As the teams entered the final minute of stoppage time, Pulido attempted to hit a curler with his left foot, but it sailed high and wide.

The match finally ended after a LA attack fizzled out. The visitors would find their result on the road as less a box office flop but not a success either. Giving up the lead to a depleted Galaxy and having to claw back a draw in stoppage time is not what the team had in mind when they made the trip out West. The hosts continue their Hollywood nightmare of a season as they left two crucial points on the table. At the time of the final whistle in Carson, Sporting Kansas City sit in 11th place, one point out of a playoff spot, and 11 points back of first place, LAFC.

Sporting Kansas City will return home on June 24th to host the Chicago Fire.

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