Galaxy rallies to defeat Minnesota with 3 second-half goals

CARSON — Time is running out on the Galaxy’s slim playoff hopes, but Billy Sharp and Diego Fagundez did their best to breathe some life into them.

Sharp, who signed with the Galaxy in August from Sheffield United, scored two of his three goals after halftime and Fagundez added the winning goal in the 82nd minute to help the Galaxy rally for a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota United on Wednesday night, gaining three valuable points in the standings in front of 16,120 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

“We’re all playing each other, these points are transitioning from one team to the next, every single matchday and if you lose, you’re separated immediately,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “It’s tight, but picking up the three points was massive. Maybe it will be the difference in us having a chance at this thing.”

The win leaves the Galaxy (8-11-9) with 33 points and moves them within five points of the ninth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

After a mistake-filled first half, the Galaxy trailed 3-1 at halftime as Minnesota (9-10-10, 37 points) capitalized on every miscue the hosts made.

Sharp, who opened the scoring for the Galaxy in the 16th minute, added to his account in the 63rd and 71st minutes to level the score at 3-3.

Minnesota had to play with 10 men for the decisive stretch after Ethan Bristow picked up his second yellow card in the 74th minute, leaving the Galaxy with approximately 20 minutes to find the winner.

Fagundez, another late-season acquisition, provided the winner, as he tapped in a cross from Tyler Boyd.

“When I got here, I said I come here to try to help the team as much as possible,” Fagundez said. “I thought today, I gave some energy. The (winning) goal definitely helps, knowing that we’re still fighting for it (the playoffs). All of these games are like finals for us.”

After opening the game on Sharp’s first goal, things went poorly for the Galaxy.

Minnesota’s first goal came in the 19th minute after Galaxy midfielder Edwin Cerrillo failed clearance. Teemu Pukki got possession and scored into the upper corner. In the 41st minute, Bongokuhle Hlongwane took a shot from distance that deflected off of Raheem Edwards and over Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond for a 2-1 lead.

Unfortunately for the Galaxy, there was still time left on the clock and Minnesota made the hosts pay as Hlongwane ended another counter with a goal for a 3-1 halftime lead. Throughout the night, the Galaxy’s playoff hopes took a wild ride on the live standings page. At one point, the team was nine points out of the final playoff spot, which would have left things dim heading into the final six games of the regular season.

Thanks to the comeback, the Galaxy now heads into the final stretch with life. The team visits Austin FC (9-13-7, 34 points) on Sunday, then returns home to face the eighth-place Portland Timbers (10-11-9, 39 points) on Sept. 30.

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