Match Report: LA Galaxy Fall to FC Dallas in 2023 MLS Regular Season Finale at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday Night

LOS ANGELES (Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023) – Playing in the 2023 MLS Regular Season finale, the LA Galaxy fell 4-1 to FC Dallas before 22,491 fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday night. 

Goal-Scoring Plays
DAL – Bernard Kamungo (Nkosi Tafari), 7th minute: Nkosi Tafari’s through ball behind the Galaxy back line found Bernard Kamungo, whose shot from the edge of the 18-yard box found the lower corner of the goal. 

DAL – Ema Twumasi, 13th minute: Novak Mićović parried away a shot into the path of Ema Twumasi, whose first-time shot from the top of the penalty area was fired into the lower right corner. 

LA – Raheem Edwards (Tyler Boyd, Diego Fagundez), 24th minute: Raheem Edwards dribbled past Marco Farfan down the end line before squeezing his shot in at the near post past Maarten Paes. 

DAL – Bernard Kamungo (Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal), 30th minute: Jesus Ferreira’s cross from the right side of the penalty area was headed in from inside the six-yard box by Bernard Kamungo.  

DAL – Jader Obrian (Paul Arriola, Nkosi Tafari), 45+2nd minute: In transition, Paul Arriola was released down the left flank before centering a pass that was finished from close range by Jader Obrian.  

Postgame Notes

  • The LA Galaxy finished the 2023 MLS Regular Season with a record of 8-14-12 (51 GF, 67 GA). 
  • The Galaxy’s nine-match unbeaten run dating back to June 21 came to an end with the loss to FC Dallas. 
  • In 20 games played at home (Dignity Health Sports Park, Rose Bowl Stadium) across all competitions during the 2023 campaign, the LA Galaxy held a 8-7-5 record (35 GF, 33 GA). 
  • Raheem Edwards finished the match with a goal scored, six dribbles completed and eight possessions won. 
  • Edwards was named the 2023 LA Riot Squad Player of the Year. 
  • Tyler Boyd, who tallied an assist in the match against FC Dallas, finished the season with eight goals and five assists in 39 matches played (32 starts) across all competitions. 
  • Riqui Puig logged 37 minutes off the bench in the match against FC Dallas, and finished the 2023 MLS Regular Season first in the league in touches (2,752) and successful passes entering the final third (640) and second in dribbles completed (92) and passes completed (1,892).
  • Puig led the Galaxy with nine goals scored in 34 matches played (33 starts) across all competitions during the 2023 campaign. 
  • Diego Fagundez recorded his 71st career assist in his 358th MLS Regular Season appearance (268th start) in the match against FC Dallas. 
  • In 28 all-time home regular-season finales, the LA Galaxy hold a 14-6-8 record. 

2023 MLS Regular Season 
*LA Galaxy (8-13-12, 36pts) vs. FC Dallas (11-10-13, 45 pts)
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023 – Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)

Goals by Half                1          2          F
LA Galaxy                     1          0          1
FC Dallas                      4          0          4

Scoring Summary:
DAL: Kamungo (Tafari), 3
DAL: Twumasi, 13
LA: Edwards (Boyd, Fagundez), 24
DAL: Kamungo (Ferreira, Pomykal), 30
DAL: Obrian (Arriola, Tafari), 45+2

Misconduct Summary:
LA: Edwards (caution), 45+5
DAL: Illarramendi (caution), 70
LA: Yoshida (caution), 76
LA: Pérez (caution), 79

LA: GK Novak Mićović, D Kelvin Leerdam (Eriq Zavaleta, 82), D Maya Yoshida ©, D Tony Alfaro (Chris Mavinga, 45), D Julián Aude (Raheem Edwards, 18); M Douglas Costa, M Edwin Cerrillo, M Diego Fagundez (Riqui Puig, 63), M Tyler Boyd; F Dejan Joveljić, F Billy Sharp (Jonathan Pérez, 45)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Jonathan Bond; M Riqui Puig, M Adam Saldaña, M Gino Vivi; F Michael Barrios

TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Douglas Costa, 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Tyler Boyd, 2); FOULS: 15 (Tyler Boyd, Raheem Edwards, 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

DAL: GK Maarten Paes, D Marco Farfan (Jose Martinez, 82), D Nkosi Tafari, D Ema Twumasi, D Sebastian Ibeagha; M Asier Illarramendi, M Paxton Pomykal (Liam Fraser, 76), M Alan Velasco (Jesus Jimenez, 83); F Paul Arriola © (Dante Sealy, 77), F Jesus Ferreira, F Bernard Kamungo (Jader Obrian, 43)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Jimmy Maurer; D Sam Junqua, M Katlego Ntsabeleng, F Eugene Ansah 

TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Jesus Ferreira, Bernard Kamungo, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Jesus Ferreira, Bernard Kamungo, 2); FOULS: xx (Six players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 4

Referee: Victor Rivas
Assistant Referees: Jeremy Kieso, Chris Elliott
Fourth Official: Mark Allatin
VAR: Alejandro Mariscal
Weather: Clear, 68 degrees
Attendance: 22,491

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

On what he can take away from this season as he looks towards building out next year’s roster:
“Just a lot of emotions today. It's been a challenging year. It's been a grind. We've had a lot of guys sacrifice physically over the course of the season who have taken injuries. Some, most for the first time, and having to do that, losing those guys because they know how much they care about it and they care about the group and they wanted to be successful. They sacrificed. You know, the guys who stayed healthy, I feel like battled and did the best they could, really, and down the stretch, you know, we didn't have enough. In the end, it was -- when you have that much lack of continuity kind of in and out, just, we struggled. And I from my side wasn't able to kind of connect all of those new pieces and the pieces and deal with all the changes and the way they solidified us down the very stretch. We were doing a great job, and we lost Riqui [Puig], we lost Mark [Delgado] and we lost a few more, and that became the thing that tipped us over the edge. You could even see tonight when Riqui came on, it's a different game. So we'll reflect on every aspect of things from a new and sort of a new process is the way this league works now because with throwing a tournament in the middle of the season meant that at the beginning of the season, so many games were coming fast and furious. Having to manage the proximity of those games and really rotating players, and obviously you want to stay as healthy as you can. Some of those things you can kind of control through as many mechanisms as you can control sports science. Autumn those things you can try to do to look at to try to keep guys as healthy as possible. The guys, for us, they were massive injuries. I'll have to reflect on it. If this is the way the league is going to trend where we are going to play a ton of games all pushed together at the beginning of the season and play a tournament in the middle of the season and there's Open Cup and other things, all of us need to reflect a lot on what that's going to look like over the course of the season with our rosters and rotations and how we build things. Because I was talking with the coaching staff on the other side after the game, or before the game, and it was the same context for them, so many games on top of each other. They have been going through injury stuff. For us, it's to reflect on that process and find the best solutions and way to attack that. It obviously to think about. Also, nuances in terms of how we want to play. We obviously conceded too many goals. For me, there are a lot of reasons for that. We ended up getting -- we were not scoring goals at the beginning of the season and we ended up scoring goals to the tune of 50-plus goals over the course of the solutions. So we found some solutions on the attacking side. I don't necessarily think -- some of it was maybe at the cost of the defending but really think some of the defending was just we didn't have any continuity in our back line and with our center backs. For me, a former center back, the foundation of a team is off of your two center backs and back line being able to manage things on the defensive side, control things. Doesn't mean you're going to control the game but if you're just conceding goals easily it kind of undermines anything that you're trying to build with the ball or against the opposition in many ways. There's so many things, I could probably ramble on forever. Ultimately, we have to reflect and see what things out of this that we can really control and be better with those things. I'll probably beat myself up on about everything, but I think it's really being able to analyze what we can control and being able to improve upon those things. Every season, new players going in, new players going out, I think it's important we get as many guys into preseason. And because of the way the season starts, I just think you have to get guys in the preseason there and you have got to get some continuity there and you have to start strong because the points at the beginning are just as important as any points throughout the course of the season.”

On whether or not he’s glad the season is over:
“As a competitor, no. Because again, I think I've been around this league for close to 25 years. There's very, very few, like the tune of three or four, where I haven't been in a playoff scenario with a group whether as a player or not a player. It embarrasses me when I'm not, which is hard to swallow. And that's part of the emotion. In terms of the endurance that this season has required, I think in some ways, yes, to be honest. But I think that's going to be part of the reflection of making sure it doesn't happen again. But for me every day, every week was a process of trying to analyze how to help this group with things constantly happening to find its foundation to be successful to put partnerships on the field that could be successful to organize the team and prepare a team to be successful, with the staff, with everybody around, the players, everybody. It was a grind. So never happy to see it end, but I'm ready to move on to another chapter.”

On the feelings of missing the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons:
“Extremely disappointed. I would say to you at the beginning of the season, you look at it and there's nine spots there that you can't miss it but that's before you write the story of a season, that's easy to say. When you start to write the story of a season; a season is a lifetime for those guys. When you start to write that story, there's things that you understand, there are things that you can't understand, there are things, decisions along the way you would like to change. But yeah, it's something that, look, we can't be there again. You can't have seasons like this. I've said this before and I've talked to multiple GMs and technical directors and other coaches. Like you guys have had the s* you can't get in five years, you've had it in one year, and what a challenge. That's the facts. We learn from it and we have to grow from it and we have to accept it and we have to be better for it and we have to improve and we don't have to be okay by it. We have to be sickened by it and figure out the best way to improve from it and not let it ever happen again. But I've not seen a season ever in all my years of playing and coaching where I'm at now with this many season-ending injuries of this style. Like I said, seven years in Toronto, one ACL injury. We had multiple -- we've had Martin's [Cáceres]  injury, the doctor is like I've never seen an ACL tear off a tibia like that in an adult body. The things that transpired, they are unique. And unique is still possible, right. Unique is still possible. And when he had what I hope is a unicorn season in the worst way and I hope that's never -- can never duplicate that again.”

On whether or not he feels the processes he’s implemented at the club will yield success in the future:
“Yeah, I do. I do. Because for me there's always two parts of a club. There's the part that's in front of the curtain that you see on the field every week and that happens in front, and that is your results and all that kind of stuff. And you can have a horrific season that way and still be growing underneath and still be behind the curtain, getting your departments together, getting them functioning, being more proactive, putting the right people in places to do certain things, and be prepared so that you, again, when it's time to keep moving forward and moving forward fast in this sport, you're prepared for that. Those things have been certainly happening. Since I've arrived, I have never been more confident about and -- about how far ahead we are in our process for this next window than ever before in the history of being here because the resources are there. The people are there. The departments are connected, statistical analysis, video analysis, scouting. Everything is interconnected now and intertwined. So those things, even though the season has been incredibly hard, in front of the curtain, behind the curtain, there have been a lot of things accomplished that establish stability for success. We have to make that work for what's in front of the curtain.”**

On evaluating how the club has performed since he joined the Galaxy: 
_" I think we have started well. Game by game, maybe we are getting a little bit unsteady and the key point, dropping the home game points, we didn't lose but we couldn't win. That game, we needed to win like against Minnesota and Portland. Then, of course, the last minutes against Seattle was very painful. Then it's gone. It's gone. Again, I felt really good when we started, but after that, too many players, again, they got injured, and it was difficult to play with the same members. Of course, there's 23, 25 players. If you want to make the playoffs, we have to be stable more, and that's what we need more next season. But still, of course, in the end, we are not enough. We were not enough the last couple games. But still positive for the next season to start well because if everybody is healthy and train with the preparation well for tactically, physically, for sure next season will be much better. And of course, even we could not go to the playoffs, also we are just second from the bottom, I think many problems with a lot of changing. That's how it is in soccer. Again, we have to rebuild the team. That takes a long time. So make sure we come back healthy and ready for next season.”

On the importance of starting next season with a preseason to get comfortable with his teammates: 
“Me individually, yes. Four months, probably could study, I could learn many things in the MLS, not only on the pitch, off pitch, and also, I'm adapting to different country, new country and a lot of different things to be honest. I'm sometimes very surprised, and this is not good or bad or whatever. It's just different. So I have to adjust, which I have done for the last 30 years since I left Japan, so nothing wrong. I'm really enjoying it.”

On his overall impression of MLS: 
“Again, this is not good or bad. It's just different, referees, I have to adapt. I felt same thing happened when I came to Italy because before I used to play a long time in the Premier League and come to Italy and every time was really stressed. But now, after two and a half years, I learn many things. Now I'm here and I have to adapt. But again, as a team, we are -- I think today was the worst first half for us since I came here, and typical Galaxy: Concede two goals in the beginning, very sloppy way, and again concede in the last minutes of the first half. And second half, a little bit getting better, but it's too late. That kind of thing never happen again; repeat, repeat, repeat.  If we want to go higher or we want to accomplish something, we have to learn from mistakes. But too many things happen again. So make sure we have to be more mature and be adult. This is MLS football, not Sunday league.”

On whether or not he agrees with Greg Vanney’s belief that this was one of the most difficult seasons he’s ever experienced: 
“Yeah, pretty much the same. A lot went into this season. A lot of stuff happened, played injuries, starters injured, protests, a lot of stuff, protests. Nevertheless, disappointing season. Can't happen again. This is the Galaxy, period.”

On how he evaluated the season:
“In terms of my season, I think it was up and down. Good and bad. A little bit bad. But yeah, to be honest. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say it's not good enough, period. I was not good enough. The back line wasn't good enough. The team wasn't good enough. End of story. I don't look for excuses. I look at myself in the mirror and blame myself more than I blame anyone else.”