The Galaxy held its annual Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday, where a crowd rewarded an advertised sale at 26,674 by giving away autographed soccer balls, concert tickets and LED bracelets.
But what the fans at Dignity Health Sports Park really wanted was an extension berth and they got that too, as Galaxy rallied to get 1-1 draw In exchange for Real Salt Lake with Douglas Costa A penalty kick in the 68th minute which gave them the point they needed to snatch their second berth after the season in six seasons.
The result also raises the galaxy (13-12-8) to fourth place In the Western Conference standings, Nashville accepted in the tiebreak, with one game to play. If the Galaxy stays in the top four, it will host a playoff game for the first time since 2016.
“We got the result that we needed to cross the line, and that’s big,” Coach Greg Fannie He said. “We’ve all scored here to change the course of this club. He’s been struggling for a number of years, and we’ve all scored here to make this club the greatest club in the league.
“We’ve taken one step towards that tonight. It’s a small step to make ourselves into the playoffs.”
A precedent that was not on the Galaxy side.
In the past decade, Galaxy won only once in Fan Appreciation Day. Last season they needed a win on the last day of the regular season, they only managed to tie and miss the post-season in the tiebreak. Three years earlier, they blew their 2-0 lead in the first half and lost, finishing a point off the playoffs.
Which team replaced Galaxy both times? Real Salt Lake.
The Galaxy held their destiny in control again, but history won’t repeat – although he was close there for a while with Sergio Cordova’s awkward header in the 26th minute giving RSL a lead that will protect it for more than 40 minutes.
The fact that the Galaxy were even in the playoff conversation with two games remaining can be attributed to a late-season surge that led to them losing just once in their last 10 games. The credit goes to the midfielders Gaston Brugman And the Riqui Puigwho joined Galaxy during the summer transfer window.
Additions also renewed forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The Galaxy captain has scored seven of his 17 goals at his highest level for the team in the nine games that both Brugman and Puig have featured in, resulting in a $6 million option contract that will keep him with the team until next season.
Puig, who came to the MLS from Barcelona, was back all over at once on Saturday, and Julien Araujo made a shot on goal that was parried by RSL goalkeeper Zach McMath with his right foot in the ninth minute, then landed at the top of the penalty area. Under a challenge from midfielder Scott Caldwell after six minutes to equalize a penalty kick. But McMath guessed correctly on that shot too, diving to his left and hitting Puig’s attempt from point down with both hands.
Cordova scored a goal for RSL (11-11-11) shortly thereafter, as he bowed backwards with his head in a cross from Aaron Herrera, a goal that Galaxy eventually met with a Costa penalty kick. Puig was involved in setting that up as well, making a perfect pass through three defenders to Hernandez, and running into the penalty area.
RSL’s Marcelo Silva, beaten on play, had Hernandez come down from behind, but referee Kevin Stott had the penalty originally disallowed.
Hernandez wisely stayed put, though, stopping to play while coaches attended to him. That gave Stott time to check the video replay and award the penalty, the Galaxy’s 14th win this season, and the most in Major League Soccer.
Costa left no doubt about this, giving fans what they came for – the annex berth.
“I’m glad that tonight we’re leaving our fans something that makes them happy,” said Fanny. “It was important that we leave tonight for that match. That’s what they’ve been waiting for for a number of years.”