Match Report: LA Galaxy Earn 3-2 Come-From-Behind Victory Over Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday Night

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Saturday, March 23, 2024) – Down 2-0 in the 71st minute, the LA Galaxy scored three goals in the span of eight minutes to earn a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night. Dejan Joveljić scored a goal for a fifth consecutive match, while Mark Delgado scored the game-winning goal in the comeback victory over Kansas City.

Joveljić Equals History
With his game-tying goal in the 75th minute against Sporting KC, Joveljić joined Brian McBride as the only players in MLS history to score in a team’s first five matches to begin a season. Additionally, Joveljić tied Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s club record for the most consecutive games played with a goal scored to begin a season (5). With a goal scored next week against Seattle Sounders FC, Joveljić would equal Jaime Moreno’s MLS record for the most consecutive games played by a player with a goal scored to begin a season (6 in 1997).

Goal-Scoring Plays
SKC – Nemanja Radoja (Daniel Salloi), 34th minute: A squared ball into the six-yard box was knocked in by Nemanja Radoja.

SKC – William Agada, 45+3rd minute: A deflected header from a corner kick was fired in from close range by William Agada.

LA – Eriq Zavaleta, 72nd minute: A loose ball inside the penalty fell to Eriq Zavaleta, whose left-footed shot from just outside the six-yard box found the bottom corner

LA – Dejan Joveljić (Riqui Puig, Gastón Brugman), 75th minute: Riqui Puig played a through ball that released Dejan Joveljić in behind the Sporting KC defense and the Serbian international forward slotted his shot in at the bottom right corner of the goal.

LA – Mark Delgado, 80th minute: Gabriel Pec’s low cross from the left edge of the 18-yard box was converted at the back post by Mark Delgado.

Postgame Notes

  • Through five matches played during the 2024 MLS Regular Season, the LA Galaxy hold an unbeaten record of 2-0-3 (12 GF, 9 GA; 9 points; +3 GD) and sit in second place in the Western Conference behind only Minnesota United FC (3-0-1; 10 points; 8 GF, 4 GA; +4 GD). 
  • The Galaxy rank second in in the league in goals scored (12) behind only Inter Miam CF (13). 
  • With three second-half goals scored in the 3-2 win over Sporting KC, the LA Galaxy currently rank first in MLS in second-half goals scored (9)
  • Saturday’s match marked the 80th meeting across all competitions between the Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City, with LA  leading the all-time series 32-29-19. 
  • Against Sporting KC, LA holds a 27-26-18 record in league play and a 5-3-1 record in the MLS Cup Playoffs. 
  • The win over Kansas City marked the Galaxy’s first road win at Children’s Mercy Park dating back to a 2-0 win over Sporting KC on May 29, 2019.
  • The win against Sporting KC marked LA Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney’s first victory over Head Coach Peter Vermes (1-5-6) in MLS regular season play. 
  • Mark Delgado finished the match with a goal scored, two chances created, 41 of 50 passes completed (82.0%) and won seven possessions. 
  • Delgado has five goal contributions (1 goal, 4 assists) in five matches played during the 2024 campaign. 
  • With his game-tying goal in the 75th minute against Sporting KC, Joveljić joined Brian McBride as the only players in MLS history to score in a team’s first five matches to begin a season.
  • Joveljić tied Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s club record for the most consecutive games played with a goal scored to begin a season (5) with his goal against Sporting KC. 
  • Riqui Puig notched an assist, won three possessions, five of nine duels and two of two tackles, recorded a game-high three interceptions, created two chances and completed 70 of 85 passes (82.4%) in the victory over SKC. 
  • John McCarthy made a season-high seven saves in the win over Sporting KC. The seven saves are the second-highest amount of saves in an MLS regular-season match in McCarthy’s career.

Next Game
Next up, the LA Galaxy play host to Seattle Sounders FC at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday, March 30 (7:30 p.m. PT; MLS Season Pass). 

2024 MLS Regular Season
LA Galaxy (2-0-3, 9pts) at Sporting Kansas City (1-1-3, 6pts)
**Saturday, March 23, 2024 – Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kan.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
LA Galaxy 0 3 3
Sporting Kansas City 2 0 2

Scoring Summary:
SKC: Radoja (Salloi), 34
SKC: Agada, 45+3
LA: Zavaleta, 72
LA: Joveljić (Puig), 75
LA: Delgado, 80

Misconduct Summary:
SKC: Thommy (caution), 53
SKC: Leibold (caution), 69
LA: Brugman (caution), 88

LA: GK John McCarthy; D Miki Yamane, D Eriq Zavaleta, D Maya Yoshida ©, D Julián Aude; M Mark Delgado, M Edwin Cerrillo (Gastón Brugman, 62), M Riqui Puig, F Gabriel Pec (Diego Fagundez, 83), F Joseph Paintsil, F Dejan Joveljić (Miguel Berry, 83)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Novak Mićović; D Mauricio Cuevas, D John Nelson, M Daniel Aguirre, M Jonathan Pérez, M Gino Vivi

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Four players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Dejan Joveljić); FOULS: 10 (Four players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 11; SAVES: xx

SKC: GK Tim Melia; D Tim Leibold, D Robert Voloder, D Dany Rosero, D Jake Davis; M Remi Walter, M Nemanja Radoja, M Erik Thommy; F Daniel Salloi (Stephen Afrifa, 83), F Alan Pulido, F William Agada

Substitutes Not Used: GK John Pulskamp; D Robert Castellanos, D Kayden Pierre, M Zorhan Bassong, M Danny Flores, M Felipe Hernandez, F Marinos Tziones

TOTAL SHOTS: 26 (William Agada, 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (William Agada, 4); FOULS: 12 (Four players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 4

Referee: Aleksandar Zhelyazkov
Assistant Referees: Wilmer Soriano, Douglas Clayton
Fourth Official: Deshun Beard
VAR: Shawn Tehini
Weather: Clear, 51 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial


On the personality of this team to fight back to earn the come-from-behind victory:
“Yeah, they believe in it. They believe in each other. Again, when we can find the right balance in our game, then we are a very dangerous. Tonight for a long stretch we just didn't find the right balance in the game and we can also be very vulnerable if we don't. I feel like we found it again towards the end. I think Gastón [Brugman] came in and did a nice job. When Gastón came in Riqui [Puig] started to get closer to Gastón, and I think he was too far away from Eddie [Edwin Cerrillo] at times, which meant that we had these two pivots. But they were so far apart, they were isolated and then when Gastón game in he was closer and they were able to combine on each other a little bit more. I think that drew their midfield out a little bit and opened up spaces behind them where we could build space. Mark [Delgado] dropped lower and rolled out so other things to open up pockets started to happen and that got us going. But the group has been resilient. Again, not an easy place to play and took us a little while to find our way in the game but we did. The other side of it is we have to defend set pieces better. We had to defend a lot of set pieces, but we defended -- we didn't do our job and that's been five, I think, we've given off now in the course of the season, which is too many. We have to reassess whether we are doing the right things with the group and what needs to change there.” _
On Gabriel Pec’s first career start for the LA Galaxy:
“Yeah, I think the way we were attacking in the early part of the game wasn't necessarily good for anyone. It was anyone who is trying to get connected. I think he's trying to build relationships on the field in terms of positional relationships with some of the guys still. You know, when he was coming inside, he was a little bit too high so it was hard to find him, and he needs to come down a little lower so that we can find him when he's in that inside position. When he's wide, I think he can be a little more patient and allow us to bring the game to him sometimes. These are things for him to pick up. For me they are tactical nuances in our group in being able to recognize when to do what and how to play with the guys that are over there on that side with him on both sides of the ball, even defensively. Defensively, I felt like he got very focused on defending the left back and often was very wide, and that was one of the reasons that the middle of the field was pretty open is because I feel like he was a little bit wide at times, which meant that our two midfielders were covering, having to cover a lot of extra space. Riqui was a little high, back line a little low and it just became a ton of territory to work, and we all as a group need to become a little more compact and close the middle of field, defend from inside out and we were just all a little bit separated.And I think that played a little bit part of it as he's still trying to get used to the group and some of those nuances inside of that, and some of the things we're asking. But it was his first start, so his first run for 90. But we've seen things that he's capable of doing and a lot of that will come out as he gets more settled into the group.”

On the play of Dejan Joveljić and Mark Delgado:
“With Dejan, he's doing a good job of showing up at the right places at the right times. When the team is attacking in the right ways, we said this for a long time, that our forwards are going to get chances when we attack in the right ways and we're able to move centerbacks out of the face of the goal and when we're able to get our wingers behind the back line, he's going to be the beneficiary of that. Today, he made a nice little cut behind the centerback. Actually I think it happened twice in a row. First one he got called offsides and then it was the same exact play where he actually was on side and buried it. I think, again, his reads and his tendencies on what -- when Riqui gets the ball and in some of those positives, what movements make sense at times. I've talked to him about not running in straight lines, but coming from angles because it shows Riqui where he wants the ball. And these things are happening for him at times now more so but he's going to be the beneficiary of the pace that we have on the outside with Joe [Paintsil] and the work that's being done in the wide channels. As far as Mark, he just understands so well what we are trying to do and then he has Joseph flying around the outsides which sets up a lot of opportunities for him to slip passes through and to do things, which is how he's been achieving great assists, slipping Joe through, finding other runners. He's just playing in his pockets and his space, and he understands systematically what we are trying to do so well that he is the epitome of what it looks like for us. And when the system is flowing, Mark is going to be on, always, that's just a fact. The other thing Mark does is he transitions to defend and he covers ground and he works and plays at a high intensity for 90 minutes like nobody else. That constantly makes him in the middle of the game in the middle of the action because he's right there in the game whether it's on the defensive side or the attacking side. He's omnipresent in whatever is happening because of his work rate how much high speed work he can do to stay involved in the game. But yeah, he's certainly thriving right now inside of the group that's out there and what's happening in the system when it's functioning.”*
On scoring his fifth goal of the season and what’s been the difference between this year’s team and last year’s: “I'm very happy because we took three points after 2-0 down. At halftime, we were talking between each other and with the coach. We managed to score three goals, it's not too bad. Yeah, great mentality, and especially I'm not sure if you recognize that when I scored the goal, only one guy was celebrating with me I think, and the other nine or eight nine guys were not happy because it's just 2-2. So that's the big difference.”

On what he saw on the game-tying goal that he scored:
“I know just it's my job to just make a good run and he's going to put the ball in the right place, so I did that two times and unfortunately the first time was offside, and the second one was perfect. So it was just an easy goal.”

On what was said at halftime to turn around the game:
“Of course it was belief. I remember that I said, guys, we need just one goal, and everything is going to turn out, and it's like that. We score one goal and we created some chances. In the first half I was thinking, am I going to shoot one ball in this game? You see it's completely two different halves and two different matches. In the second half, we came out and we killed them.”

On scoring a goal in five consecutive games to begin the season:
_“My job is always to score. I’m always thinking about that, and about how I can help the team to take all three points. Yes, I was thinking about how to score. If the team plays like this, if they feed me with the balls, it's going to be a lot more.”

On being longest tenured player on the team and what feels different from years prior with the Galaxy so far?_
“I cannot tell you a specific what is that but it's some different energy this year. I mean, this is the great example, when I score the second goal, it's just one guy was celebrating with me. And this here is the different thing. Since I am here, this is our first win here. One game we play 0-0 and other games we lost here. It's a tough place to play and I'm happy because we won all three points in such a hard place.”

On the feeling of the team after the come-from-behind win:
“This win is very, very important, especially on the road and I think the previous game we should have won at least one out of two, and this is good confident boost and injection. So yeah, we needed that and we are going to keep pushing and working hard, and next game against Seattle is minimum three points.”

On why he described his game-tying goal as easy:
“When the ball is perfect, it's easy to score. I looked for where the keeper [was], I just shoot next to him. Very good ball, also, I made very good first touch and after that, it wasn't that hard to score.”