Even when the LA Galaxy face a bit of adversity, they still find a way to get the job done these days.
On Saturday against Austin FC, it was a first-half penalty taken by Chicharito that was saved by Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver. No matter, as Sebastian Lletget scored the opener shortly after and Chicharito added a second-half tally to give LA a 2-0 win at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Chicharito, who has failed to score both of his penalty attempts to date for the Galaxy, admitted the PK save affected him briefly, but he just got on with the game.
“Of course, I am not going to lie, if I score the penalty, the confidence could have probably lifted up, but that’s the great thing, that if you miss the most important one there’s a next one, so mentally you need to be present,” Chicharito told reporters after the game. “You need to be present. You can’t do anything; you can’t go back to the penalty and try to shoot it again. That’s why if I score or not, that’s something I learned since I was a kid in every match, in every play, not only in an opportunity to score a goal. If you miss a pass, the next one is the most important. If you have a bad touch, the next one if the most important. So that was it.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Mexican is in red-hot form at the moment, leading the league with seven goals through five games. But even with head coach Greg Vanney admitting there was a stretch in the match where the Galaxy were “uncomfortable,” they are showing progress in weathering tough moments.
“We are for sure not at the top of our game,” Vanney said. “I think we have had improvements. I see players settling in, as they get used to being here. I thought Samuel [Grandsir] was excellent today through stretches and that is showing that he is starting to settle in and connect with this team. I thought our players are getting a better understanding of what our principles are especially on the attacking side. I still think we can continue to improve on both sides of the ball, but we are taking steps forward. I saw that during training this week and I saw that in the game today.
“I was not surprised that we played pretty well today especially the way we moved the ball. It was showing up in training but one thing this group is very aware of is that winning and getting streaks of winning in this League are very sensitive and you have to make sure you reboot and prepare to compete and battle and sacrifice again next week because it will be another challenge, that is what it’s like to be in MLS. So in order for us to keep going and keep giving ourselves the opportunity to improve each week, we have to be willing to sacrifice in those difficult moments and the guys have done that in spades since the start of the season,” Vanney added.
Wary of wanting to declare the corner is turned once and for all for the Galaxy under Vanney, with past seasons showing false dawns before falling apart again, it does feel like something is different this time and the team and coaching staff are actually clicking.
“When you get a new management, you see all the ideas that they come in with and it changed the energy around here and you hope for a great start,” Lletget said. “We all felt like wow this could be a special year, we don’t want to jinx in any sort of way but I think we all felt the shift. So I wouldn’t say I’m surprised because I know we have quality players and I trust our staff and the club. I’ve experienced some tough times in this club from good times to bad times and this is definitely the best I have felt as far as the culture, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air and I’m going to keep enjoying it.”
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