Chicharito scored his league-leading seventh goal of the MLS season and the LA Galaxy won their second game on the trot 2-0 over Austin FC at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday afternoon.
You could say LA dealt with a bit of a post-El Trafico hangover in this game, as they controlled the run of play and had far more chances than their game expansion side opponent, but missed a few gilt-edged chances that could have made the game a blowout. Still, the Galaxy continue to look good to open the season.
Greg Vanney made two chances to the lineup for LA, bringing in Efrain Alvarez and Carlos Harvey for Ethan Zubak and Adam Saldaña, respectively.
The Galaxy had plenty of early looks early, but none could really test Brad Stuver in goal. Just before the 20-minute mark, Alvarez had a great shot in the box that was deflected and sent it just wide of the mark.
LA drew a penalty in the 25th minute, as Chicharito was bundled over by Austin defender Jhohan Romaña, but the subsequent penalty by Chicharito was saved by Stuver.
But LA took the lead in the 35th minute, as a ball over the top from Daniel Steres went to Sebastian Lletget, who got past the final defender, Hector Jimenez, to get onto the ball and then beat Stuver to bury the shot.
Unfortunately, Jimenez was hurt on the play and after getting attention on the field, was stretchered off and immediately subbed out. Hopefully he isn’t badly hurt in the long run, especially on his return to the stadium he used to play at regularly.
Vanney made one change at halftime, bringing on Sacha Kljestan for Harvey. The Galaxy pushed for an insurance goal as the 2nd half opened.
They hadn’t found it by the 62nd minute, when new Designated Player Kevin Cabral entered for Lletget to make his MLS debut.
For Austin, Kekuta Manneh came off the bench and provided an immediate boost for the road team. He nearly scored in the 70th minute, as a cross from the flank was partially punched by Jonathan Bond, but Manneh’s subsequent attempt was blocked by Steres to keep Austin off the board.
Right after that, Vanney brought on Nick DePuy for Samuel Grandsir and Saldaña for Alvarez. While neither scored or assisted on the day, Grandsir and Alvarez both put in improved shifts and looked solid in this game.
And LA got the needed insurance tally in the 77th minute, as Chicharito hit a sharp tap-in off a great Julian Araujo cross.
Cabral buried a shot in the 85th minute, but it was whistled off because it was an offside call on the French attacker.
Zubak entered the game for Chicharito in the 86th minute, with LA aiming to close out the game with no injuries.
So it was a workmanlike performance from the Galaxy, but they looked solid, not necessarily like killers, and got the win pretty handily. Chicharito did get his penalty saved, but he came through with a goal to seal the win, and Lletget getting off the mark is a good omen to hopefully get him in gear this season.
The Galaxy are scheduled to be back in action next Saturday, when they head back out onto the road to take on the Portland Timbers for the teams’ first meeting of the year.
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