Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Galaxy remains unbeaten against LAFC after 3-2 win

Los Angeles’ newest sports rivalry is off to a lopsided start.

The L.A. Galaxy defeated L.A. Football Club, 3-2, July 19 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

In the four games the two teams have played since LAFC joined Major League Soccer last season, the Galaxy are now 2-0-2 against their young rivals.

The two leading scorers in Major League Soccer accounted for all the scoring, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring three for the Galaxy and Carlos Vela scoring twice for LAFC.

Vela leads the league with 21 goals, followed by Ibrahimovic with 16.

Ibrahimovic scored one goal with his left foot, one goal with his right foot and the other one with his head.

The header in the 56th minute gave the Galaxy a 2-1 lead. Fourteen minutes later, Ibrahimovic put the game out of reach with his third goal of the night.

Vela’s goals came early and late. He scored in the fourth minute of the game on a penalty kick after Galaxy goalie David Bingham tackled an LAFC player inside the penalty box.

Vela also scored in extra time at the end of the second half.

Ibrahimovic matched Vela’s early goal eight minutes into the game.

“I approach every game the same,” Ibrahimovic said afterward. “I come with a lot of confidence, a lot of belief, and a lot of responsibility, and when I go out on the field, I feel I have a lot of responsibility to help my teammates and especially to help them win, and today the outcome was perfect.”

On the rivalry with LAFC, Ibrahimovic didn’t pull punches.

“It is not every single week we play against LAFC,” he said. “Today was a different game. Today was about a rival game, two teams from the same city, and obviously we need to get this attitude for every game.”

Vela was disappointed in the outcome.

“It was a hard loss against a team of the city, but … we are still in first,” he said through a translator. “We have to forget this game and continue at our level. We want to be leaders, and we have to keep pushing, keep working, and there’s no other way to be a good team.”

Despite the loss, LAFC remains in first place in the MLS Western Conference standings with a 14-3-4 record, nine points ahead of the Galaxy, who are 12-8-1.

The teams play again Aug. 25 at Banc of California Stadium, LAFC’s home field. The home team will hope it can post its first win in the rivalry that night.

DEADLINE DEALING: With the July 31 trade deadline less than a week away, Dodgers fans are waiting to see what kind of deal team President Andrew Friedman will pull off to bolster the team’s weakest link, the bullpen.

Making Friedman’s job harder this year is the fact that so many clubs are still in the wild card race and that Major League Baseball eliminated the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline last year, meaning there can be no trades after July 31.

A month ago it looked like the San Francisco Giants would be sellers at the deadline and teams were lining up to make offers for starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner and relief pitchers Will Smith and Tony Watson.

But the Giants have been on a roll the entire month of July and have gone from last to second in the National League West with a 52-50 record. Although they remain 14 ½ games behind the Dodgers, they are only two games out of the second wild card slot.

There are other relievers on the market besides Smith and Watson. Shane Greene, a righthander with the Detroit Tigers, is believed to be high on Friedman’s list of possible trade prospects, as is lefthander Felipe Vasquez of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Dodgers have the resources to make a move. I wouldn’t trade Alex Verdugo if I didn’t have to, but I could see moving Joc Pederson and a couple of prospects for someone who could be the link between the starters and Kenley Jansen.

Heck, if Gavin Lux keeps tearing up Triple A pitching like he’s been doing at Oklahoma City, Corey Seager could be available. Lux was the Dodgers first round draft pick in 2016 out of high school.

Called up to Oklahoma City at the end of June, he has hit .487 with seven home runs and 23 runs batted in so far.

The Dodgers have a solid lineup and kids in the minors waiting to make the big time. Like every other team in the major leagues, they don’t have enough dependable arms in the bullpen.

Even Jansen has been shaky the last two years.

In 2017, Jansen was 5-0 with a league-leading 41 saves and an earned run average of 1.32. In 68 innings, he gave up only five home runs.

Last year, Jansen was 1-5 with 38 saves and a 3.01 ERA. His home runs jumped to 13 in 71 innings.

This year, he is 3-3 with an ERA of 3.63. He has given up six home runs in 39 innings.

There is no doubt that Jansen has lost some velocity on his fastball, but he also isn’t locating his pitches this year as well as he has in the past.

Pedro Baez has been his usual inconsistent self this year. He started the season as the team’s most consistent reliever outside Jansen but has slumped lately. While he has been slumping Joe Kelly has emerged from his early-season scuffles, although he still walks too many hitters, a bad thing for a relief pitcher.

By this time next week, the Dodgers probably will have a new face or two in the bullpen. It might be an earth-shaking move or it might be a head-shaking move.

But you can count on Andrew Friedman pulling the trigger on a deal that will improve their chances to win the World Series this year.

IT’S ABOUT TIME: Training camps are opening up for all 32 National Football League teams this week. The exhibition season begins Aug. 1 with the annual Hall of Fame Game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos.

A full slate of exhibition games begins the following week, leading up to the season opener Sept. 5.

The Rams are coming off a season that saw them reach the Super Bowl. They hope to avoid the drop most Super Bowl losing teams experience the following season.

The Chargers have their own title aspirations this year, though they are going to have to get past the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West if they are going to go far.

Just think, three years ago we didn’t even have an NFL team to call our own. Now we have two and they both might reach the playoffs this coming season.