LA Galaxy tie with Real Salt Lake to qualify for MLS Cup playoffs
The league’s most decorated team had to come from behind to salvage a point against Real Salt Lake and secure their 2022 MLS Cup playoffs spot.
The Los Angeles Galaxy needed a win or a tie against Real Salt Lake to secure their spot in the 2022 MLS Cup playoffs in the Western Conference, but they struggled more than expected at Dignity Health Sports Park. The team with the most league titles could’ve taken an early lead in the first half, but Riqui Puig missed the first opportunity.
So RSL gained momentum and Sergio Córdova gave the visiting side a 1-0 advantage in the 25th minute. Real Salt Lake had the Galaxy against the ropes and the pressure was mounting to secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the 2019 campaign.
Douglas Costa to the rescue
The Los Angeles Galaxy came back strong in the beginning of the second half and Puig gave Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández a through ball inside the box, but as the Mexico international was preparing to take the shot, he was brought down by a defender and the referee didn’t call the foul at first. The 33-year-old requested medical assistance while VAR was checking the play and minutes later the referee confirmed the penalty in favor of the Galaxy.
This time Douglas Costa took the ball and was determined to take the penalty to level the scores. The former Brazil international took his time and tricked goalkeeper Zac MacMath to tie the game in the 68th minute. The Galaxy had to work hard to hold on to the much needed point because goalkeeper Jonathan Bond had to make an impressive save towards the end of the match, but for the first time in six seasons, they secured a playoff spot with one game left in the regular season.
“Obviously, I’m proud of these guys,” LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said after the game. “It’s been a couple years now that we’ve been battling together. Trying to put a group together. Fill in our holes. Grow in terms of our confidence. And just belief. Winning the games, or getting results in games that we need to, has been a big thing for us. We’ve had opportunities over the stretch to win games and take a big step forward, and sometimes we dropped those. But in this last little stretch of games, we’ve been winning when we need to win.
“Tonight we got a result that we needed to get to get ourselves across the line. And, that’s big. It’s a mental thing. You know? And as I just said to the guys, we all signed up here to change the trajectory of this club. Because it’s the best club in MLS. But it’s been struggling for a number of years. And all of us signed up here with the responsibility to turn this club back into the greatest club in the league. And, so, we took one step towards that tonight. It’s a small step to get ourselves in the playoffs. Now it’s to go to Houston, and play like Houston is a playoff game so that we can be ready.”