USA TODAY Sports
LA Galaxy homegrown player Jose Villarreal had the match winning goal against Herediano. His impact on the game is rewarded in the latest Match Impact Ratings.
The LA Galaxy youth movement may someday be the stuff of legend, but for now it's the stuff that's pushing the Galaxy on to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League. Considering the matches the reserve squad had to step up in during group play, LA's success owes a great deal to its youth and academy system.
One such academy player, Jose Villarreal, in his first match back with the team after a break on US U-20 national team duty lead the LA Galaxy in Match Impact Rating. His one goal on one shot and early exit was good for an MIR of 96.4 against Herediano, the best MIR of the night for the Galaxy.
Sean Franklin, who had the assist on Villarreal's goal, finished with an MIR of 70 with a shot on goal and a foul earned to go with that assist. Whether it's intentionally reflected in MIR or not, that the two players who combined for the match winning goal are the top two finishers in impact rating seems quite fitting.
Robbie Keane went 1/2 on goal and played the full 90, so he came up a ways behind Villarreal with an MIR of 62, third best on the night. Fellow goalscorer Omar Gonzalez was right behind him at 52.5. Gonzalez didn't earn any fouls, while Keane earned two including the one that led to Jack McBean's goal in stoppage time.
Juninho was another assist getter, but he lacked disciple against Herediano. He was called for five fouls without earning any, and his yellow card certainly didn't do him any favors. While it led to a relatively low MIR of 31.8, there's room to argue that Juninho was a bit hounded by the referee.
Michael Stephens proved the ultimate super sub. While his 15 minutes disqualifies him from being named MIR man of the match (60 minutes is a requirement for consideration) he did end up with an MIR of 360 getting the assist on goals scored by Robbie Keane and Jack McBean [averaging 12 points per 90 minutes]. As much as Stephens has gotten the reputation as a defensive first player, much of that is coaching and when he's allowed to go forward full speed he does have the ability to distribute the ball well.
Match Impact Rating is graciously given to LAG Confidential by Patrick Johnston.