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LA Galaxy vs Nashville SC

El Trafico incoming! Galaxy silence MVP frontrunner Mukhtar and Nashville to book MLS playoff date with rivals LAFC

5:15 AM SGT 16/10/22
Araujo Galaxy 2022
The LA Galaxy silenced Nashville FC's MVP frontrunner Hany Mukhtar to seal a 1-0 win in their first MLS playoff match.
  • Galaxy defense steps up
  • Mukhtar limited to one shot
  • Galaxy to face LAFC next

WHAT HAPPENED? Homegrown star Julian Araujo scored the game's lone goal, which came just moments after Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez had seemingly given his side the lead only to see his goal ruled out by VAR due to a foul earlier in the sequence.

There was no ruling out Araujo's finish, though, with the Mexican full back heading home a cross from Samuel Grandsir. The goal was Araujo's first of the season, and there wasn't a better time to score it.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The Galaxy's big stars stepped up as Nashville's faltered in the opening match of these playoffs. Although the goal didn't count, Chicharito and Riqui Puig kept Nashville's defense busy throughout, with the Mexican star drawing an early yellow card on Nashville's star center back Walker Zimmerman.

On the other side, Nashville's attack was totally limited by the Galaxy, with the visitors, who many saw as an MLS Cup dark horse, held to just nine total shots with just five on target.

ALL EYES ON: He won the Golden Boot and will likely be named MLS MVP, but Mukhtar was kept silent by a Galaxy defense that entered as an uncertainty. They made no mistakes against the German star, who contributed to 34 goals this year but was held to just one shot and one key pass on Saturday. One thing we've learned is that Nashville goes as far as Mukhtar can take them and, on Saturday, the Galaxy made sure he couldn't take them very far.

THE VERDICT: It was a statement win for the Galaxy, who put in one of their most composed performances of the season at the right time. They avoided any of the defensive missteps that defined large stretches of their regular season and, when the time came, they were able to finish their chance, something that was far from a given for anyone not named Chicharito this season.

As for Nashville, it will be a disappointing end to a season that never quite got going. They've been one of the better teams in MLS over the last few seasons, so most weren't worried by their stop-start results in the regular season. In the end, though, they fell short on the road, with Mukhtar unable to replicate the superhuman effort that became all too common during the regular season.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE GALAXY? Only the tastiest matchup imaginable. The Galaxy will now face LAFC in a playoff edition of El Trafico as they will look to unseat their crosstown rivals and Supporters' Shield champions in a marquee matchup for the ages.