Chiellini and Bale watch LAFC edge LA Galaxy 3-2 in derby


Los Angeles FC’s Gareth Bale gestures toward the stands before the team’s MLS soccer match against the LA Galaxy in Los Angeles, Friday, July 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)


Although Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale weren’t quite ready to play in derby rivals Los Angeles FC, the two stars got to experience the passion and potential of their new club up close.

José Cifuentes scored twice and Cristian Arango secured the eventual winner at the end of the second half, leading LAFC past LA Galaxy 3-2 on Friday night in another thrilling edition of the El Tráfico clubs’ intercity rivalry.

LAFC improved their record at the top of the Major League Soccer standings to 12-4-3 as they await the imminent debuts of their two European superstars.

Chiellini was in uniform, but the 37-year-old Italian defender did not make his MLS debut. He left the touchline with his fellow reserves to tread on Arango to celebrate his goal in the 72nd minute.

Chiellini signed last month after 17 seasons at Juventus, and LAFC could clearly use his constant presence at the back after this back and forth derby.

Bale only arrived in Los Angeles earlier on Friday, but the longtime Real Madrid star received a long, raucous pre-game ovation as he stood on the pitch and waved at the ticket office closed.

“You’ve seen how quickly a player fits into our circle,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. “We will put Gareth in (uniform) as soon as possible. He was ready tonight, but I think it would have taken a bit too much to get him off the plane and straight into the game.

Bale celebrated each of his new team’s goals from a luxury box at the Banc of California Stadium, and the Welsh striker then returned to the pitch and grabbed a megaphone to lead a post-match chant with their fans during his new teammates doused him with water.

“We are all delighted to have him join our team,” LAFC midfielder Kellyn Acosta said. “We think he’s a key addition. It was huge for him to be part of our party, to see the vibe here at the Bench with 3252 (fan association).”

Samuel Grandsir and Rayan Raveloson scored for the Galaxy, who have just two wins in their last eight matches. Douglas Costa, the Galaxy’s biggest off-season addition, missed the derby under MLS suspension.

LAFC took the lead in the 17th minute when Cifuentes found himself alone in the box to head in from Acosta’s corner.

The Galaxy equalized in the 55th minute with a long low shot into traffic from Grandsir, the French striker who hadn’t found the net in his first 17 games this season.

But Cifuentes put LAFC back in the lead in the 70th minute with another header from an excellent cross by former MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who then fed Arango for his breakaway goal two minutes later. Vela recently secured his own future with LAFC by signing a long overdue contract extension.

Raveloson kept contact with an 81st-minute header, but LAFC hung on.


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