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LA Galaxy defeat FC Shirak 2-1

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Jose Villarreal brace gives LA their first victory of the year

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy kicked off their 2016 preseason friendly with a 2-1 victory over Aremenian side FC Shirak on a chilly Saturday evening at the StubHub Center.

The first half was an entertaining affair as both teams looked to impress. LA dominated possession but struggled to create much the in final third, as you might expect from a team playing its first competitive match of the season. The Galaxy did find success early on by locating newcomer winger Emmanuel Boateng on the left flank, with his direct play creating several opportunities for LA.

In the 32nd minute, the Galaxy enjoyed a extended sequence that almost led to a goal. First Boateng played a tantalizing cross in the box but no one was around to head home, then Dos Santos scampered down the rebound and juked two defenders before chipping in another cross that was cleared, then finally Alan Gordon managed a header from very close range but the attempt was just wide.

Right before the half, LA had an excellent chance when Robbie Keane beat the Shirak defense with time and space inside the box, but with just the keeper to beat, he poked a shot off the right post.

Head coach Bruce Arena put out an entirely different starting 11 for the 2nd half.

It wasn't long before the Galaxy went ahead. In the 53rd minute, Nacho Maganto slipped in an overlapping Oscar Sorto on the right sideline, and Sorto played an inch-perfect cross that Jose Villarreal calmly side-footed into the roof of the net.

Boisterous by an enthusiastic crowd from the large Armenian community in LA, FC Shirak kept pushing for an equalizer, and in the 75th minute, they got it, as a poor pass from Los Dos graduate Daniel Steres led to a easy finish for Viulen Ayvazywan.

The Galaxy weren't finished however, and in the 80th minute, Villarreal collected a looping cross inside the box from close range before unleashing an improtpu karate kick to power a volley in between the goalkeeper's legs into the net.

LA next play old friend Juninho and Club Tijuana in a friendly this Saturday at the StubHub Center.