It was the 73rd minute of the contest when Romain Alessandrini checked into the match, moments after Sebastian Lletget scored the opening goal.
Moments later the LA Galaxy had two. Darting inside from the right flank with purpose and speed, Alessandrini baited the Minnesota midfield with a quick one-two before shuffling to an open Jona dos Santos centrally, and the Mexican international did the rest. (Skip to 2:23)
Six months after going down with a knee injury that required surgery, Alessandrini was a bright spot during his brief spell on the Allianz Arena pitch, appearing to have fully recovered from the extended layoff. The 30-year old Designated Player didn’t look rusty, but reinvigorated: His layoff to Jona was exquisite.
When fit and healthy, Alessandrini adds a deadly dimension to an attack that has been supercharged since the arrival of Cristian Pavón. 20 minutes of game tape is all Bob Bradley has at his disposal to figure out how to contain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristian Pavón and Romain Alessandrini at the same time Thursday night.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the Frenchman’s presence on the pitch as well. At one point Alessandrini angrily confronted Ozzie Alonso of all people over a rough foul. Romain has a way of lighting a fire under his teammate’s asses that’s been sorely lacking this season.
The Philadelphia Union’s Illsinho maybe have the reputation as the super-sub in Major League Soccer, but this postseason there may be no one more valuable off the bench than Romain Alessandrini.