In the opening round of the MLS Cup playoffs, LA Galaxy defeated Nashville 1-0 thanks to Julián Araujo’s first goal in two years.
The Galaxy, who are playing in the playoffs for the first time since 2019, will face rival and top-seeded Los Angeles FC on Thursday night in the Western Conference semifinals.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s goal in the 51st minute was overturned by VAR due to a foul, but Araujo’s header past goalie Joe Willis in the 60th minute made up for it. Hany Mukhtar of Nashville was fouled by Araujo, which resulted in the turnover and the seeming score.
Nine minutes later, the Galaxy defender headed in a cross from close range after receiving a ball from Samuel Grandsir. Araujo scored his first goal against Portland on October 7, 2020.
Due to illness, Nashville coach Garry Smith was unable to travel. Acting coach Steve Guppy was the first assistant.
Mukhtar, who led the league in goals with 23 during the regular season, was running up the right side when Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond made one of his five stops.
In the more than 30 minutes that were left, Nashville had two chances, but they were unsuccessful. C.J. Sapong’s effort in the 89th minute was wide right, and Teal Bunbury’s header in the 65th minute was too high and barely cleared the crossbar.
Nashville outshot everyone, 9-7, and outshot everyone on goal, 5-4. 3 saves were made by Willis.
Hernandez appeared to give LA a 1-0 lead with a shot that struck the top of the far corner of the net before it was ruled to be off-target while playing for the Galaxy in his first MLS playoff appearance in three years.