This wasn’t as exciting offensively as the last game against the Portland Timbers for the LA Galaxy, but the solid defense was a pleasure to see in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. There were several players that had quiet first halves, but that was okay knowing the defensive foibles the Galaxy have suffered in weeks past.
The insertion of Séga Coulibaly leading to a clean sheet should surprise no one. The man was everywhere and is a calm presence leading the backline. He and Williams appear to pair well together, and Séga’s ability to creatively pass into midfield is a bonus.
The Galaxy engendered several chances in the first half with decent passing, in particular right in front of the net. A failure to finish plagued them a bit (as well as an affliction of backheeled passes), but they looked tidy even though they tried to pass into the net (except for Grandsir who was shoot on sight).
The second half saw the passing pay out. Kjlestan delivered an absolute thriller of a through ball, and Efrain Álvarez crafted a wonderful finish. Kljestan in particular was on target throughout the game, contributing several key passes. But Álvarez had his best game for the Galaxy in some time. He was bright in the attack throughout the game when he shot at goal, AND when he was assisting others. This is the player Zlatan Ibrahimović was so excited about.
The Galaxy got a little lazy in the last 30 minutes, but it’s been awhile since this team has ground out a 1-0 victory on the heels of many games in a row.
- Efraín Álvarez - killed a couple of attacking opportunities by trying to shift the ball onto his left foot. His left foot paid out in the second half with a GREAT finish on what looked like an impossible shot standing parallel to the net. Blocked by the keeper in the 60th minute as his confidence built. Fantastic pass to Cabral in the 82nd minute that should have been rewarded with a goal. Man of the Match
- Sacha Kljestan - tested the keeper in the 17th minute after Grandsir’s shot was blocked. Fed Saldaña right at the end of the first half, but the shot was blocked. Absolutely fantastic assist: great vision for the through ball to Álvarez for the Galaxy’s goal. I thought he was Victor Vázquez from time to time he was so creatively good!
- Julian Araujo - closed down a counter in the 17th minute. Recovered after a strip in the 42nd minute. Really great defense on Meram who just couldn’t figure out how to get past Julian. A pest up the right in the attack, involved in several key chances. I’m enjoying watching this young man play because he won’t be with the Galaxy for long.
- Samuel Grandsir - apparently shoot on sight after last week’s goal. Could have passed in a couple of instances, but don’t blame him for being greedy. Just missed in the 25th minute over the crossbar. Then tried a failed bike! Nice counter run in the 68th minute but couldn’t deliver the final pass to an onrushing Cabral.
- Jonathan Bond - after not being required to do much for the first 75 minutes, came up with a great save on Rusnák in the 76th minute. Great leaping save to end the game.
- Derrick Williams - good stop on Bobby Wood in the 33rd minute. Orange cone in the 77th minute, but Bond bailed him out. Blocked a shot in the 80th minute.
- Séga Coulibaly - paired well with Williams preventing a shot in the 59th minute. Importance clearance in the 63rd minute. Didn’t look rusty at all.
- Rayan Raveloson - balanced with Saldaña.
- Adam Saldaña - hit the keeper to end the first half.
- Sebastian Lletget - surprised he got minutes after how much he played at the Gold Cup. A wash.
- Kévin Cabral - finally a great finish (though it was offside). Not a great finish when he was standing by himself in front of the RSL keeper in the 82nd minute. He looks better in passing, but still poor in front of net.
- Jorge Villafaña - good clearance in the 57th minute.
- Daniel Steres/Augustine Williams/Daniel Aguirre - late subs.
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