Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme had promising debuts as the LA Galaxy tied Liga MX side Club Tijuana 0-0 on a warm Tuesday night at the StubHub Center.
Here is tonight’s really handsome starting XI. pic.twitter.com/7yNTc8wUbQ— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) February 10, 2016
Using the friendly as preparation for LA's upcoming CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup vs. Santos Laguna in two weeks, the Galaxy put out a first-choice lineup. New signings Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme joined Leonardo and Robbie Rogers in the back four, while Gyasi Zardes once again paired with Robbie Keane up top. With an eye towards league play, the Xolos put out a reserve-heavy side featuring former Galaxy academy product Paul Arriola and U.S. international Michael Orozco.
In the early going the young Xolos side dominated possession, but eventually the experience of the Galaxy side began to show. In the 25th minute, Steven Gerrard had time and space on the top of the box but his blast was high. A minute later, Ashley Cole stole the ball and tried his luck from afar, but the long distance attempt just missed the left corner of the goal.
Soon afterwards, Steven Gerrard curled a free kick from the left corner of the 18-yard box that barely eluded a streaking Zardes from point-blank range.
Both Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme were impressive in their first minutes with the club, making plays, cutting out danger and effectively neutralizing the Xolos attackers.
The action was less intense in the second half as the Galaxy players struggled with match fitness while Xolos were unable to seriously threaten the Galaxy defense with the exception of the elusive Gonzalo Diaz. In the 79th minute, substitute Bradford Jamieson IV located Zardes for a breakaway, but goalkeeper Federico Vilar snared his low shot. Moments later, Raul Mendiola was unlucky when he managed to beat two defenders in the box but skied a rocket from close range.
Despite a boisterous neutral crowd of 14,535 willing the teams on, the game ended in a scoreless draw.