The LA Galaxy returned to action after four months off, but a late goal from Chicharito wasn’t enough as they lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers in their opening game of the MLS is Back Tournament Monday in Orlando.
The game was tight and even for an hour, but two goals in less than 10 minutes separated the teams, before the Timbers went down a man and the Galaxy tried to claw back for a point, to no avail.
The only real surprise in the lineup was 17-year-old Homegrown signing Cameron Dunbar, making his MLS debut in the match. The youngster was lively in the first half, showing fearlessness and a good eye for the pass in the buildup.
It was a good start for LA, as Cristian Pavon drew a penalty on Dario Zuparic. Chicharito stepped up to open his MLS account...and he shot it right where Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark dived.
Sacha Kljestan also couldn’t bury the rebound, Clark making a quick second save to keep the game scoreless.
After a frantic, frustrating first half, LA started the second half looking better, but Portland eventually grabbed the lead, with a long buildup leading to Sebastian Blanco sending a cross from the endline that Jeremy Ebobisse redirected in net, bodying up Rolf Feltscher easily to tap it in.
A few minutes later, Blanco doubled the Timbers’ lead, easily blowing by Emiliano Insua and Giancarlo Gonzalez as he dribbled in along the endline, and blasted it by David Bingham to make it 2-0.
Cristian Pavon drew a foul just outside the box in the 75th minute, with Zuparic drawing his second yellow card of the night for the foul. But Pavon’s subsequent free kick was blocked.
And LA looked like they got a lifeline in the 81st minute, Gordon Wild turning in an absolutely beautiful cross from Pavon, but the goal was waived off for offside, which was pretty disappointing considering how great the play was. Another goal was also called off moments later.
Then in the 88th minute, the big moment happened, as Chicharito scored his debut goal for the club, finding space in the box and turning in Pavon’s cross to make it 2-1 and give the Galaxy a glimmer of hope.
It was a tough result, no question about it. LA had a chance to take an early lead, and while Chicharito opening his account is good news moving forward, it was too little too late on the night. The issues we saw in the early season persisted in this game.
The Galaxy have several days to regroup and get ready for the next game, and it’s a big one: The El Trafico against LAFC Saturday night. Can LA find their way to get a result in the big one? We’ll see.
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