Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy, for the second game in a row, gave up an early goal only to come storming back to take down previously undefeated Real Salt Lake, on a game played in front of a capacity crowd at StubHub Center on Saturday night.
It was five different goal scorers that did the damage and by the time the first half had ended LA was in a commanding 4-1 lead.
However, it looked like it was Real Salt Lake who would win this match. After denying LA three times – two open looks (one off the post) and a squandered penalty kick (Gerrard saved by Rimando) – it was Juan Manuel (Burrito) Martinez who out-jumped AJ DeLaGarza on the back post and gave the visitors the lead in the 16th minute. The goal was against the run of play but well taken. And DeLaGarza probably could’ve only been saved by being taller.
But in true LA Galaxy form, if last week was to be trusted, they stormed quickly back to score 4 unanswered goals in a route that left RSL reeling.
First it was Gyasi Zardes’ turn to fire up the crowd. Zardes collected a ball from Baggio Husidic above the box and turned two Salt Lake defenders away from goal before going to his right and hooking a ball around Nick Rimando. The usually nimble footed Rimando didn’t move as the ball clearly beat him from the word go. The Galaxy were level in the 19th minute.
It was the kind of Zardes goal that fans wish they would see more of. And with Zardes playing in the “up-top” striker position, perhaps they will.
Then Mike Magee got on the end of a divine cross by Emanuel Boateng. It was Boateng who’d been criticized earlier in the year for his poor crossing. And it was Boateng who put an inch perfect cross over Gyasi Zardes and past a diving Rimando to find Magee for the tap-in in the 26th minute.
Boateng got his own shot on goal after several great passes from Giovani dos Santos and Zardes. Boateng was put in on a goal and calmly toed it past Rimando for LA’s third goal of the night.
“On Friday after the warmups. Bruce (Arena) said Sebastian (Lletget) had some problems and couldn’t play so he told me to get ready. So I just tried to step in and help the team anyway I could, so it’s been a fun night.” Emmanuel Boateng, LA Galaxy Midfielder
And finally, it was Giovani dos Santos with the goal of the night. After Boateng again made a dangerous run into the box, and after he was probably pulled down when getting past the RSL defense, he was able to scramble to his feet enough to poke the ball back to Dos Santos at the top left of the box. Gio took one touch and chipped to the far back post making Nick Rimando wish he was a couple inches taller. It was a Golazo and capped off a frantic four goals in the first half.
“I think in a couple of months, we’re going to be a real good team. Some other players are still waiting to get back in, and they’re going to be playing together, obviously, over the next few months and hopefully getting better each game. But I think we have a good team and a good balance with some young players, some pace, some real experienced players.” Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy Head Coach
Ultimately Real Salt Lake would pull back a goal in the second half on a Penalty Kick that caught LA Galaxy defender Daniel Steres grabbing the arm of Yura Movsisyan in the box. It was a borderline call but probably the right one.
The final goal of the game came when a rampaging Steven Gerrard, a man who has now played 180 outstanding minutes, received a ball that made it’s way through Kyle Beckerman. Gerrard then fooled both Beckerman and Jamison Olave into going one way while he casually walked into the box and slotted past Rimando. It was the goal that LA needed to ice the game and it came as time was ready to expire.
WHO STOOD OUT?
Emanuel Boateng probably did the most with his starting minutes. After stepping in for Sebastian Lletget, who picked up a Minor Groin injury during training on Friday, he proved that he was up to the task and caused Real Salt Lake considerable problems.
Then you have to look at Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos. Both players have been criticized for not living up to their lucrative Designated Player contracts, but over the last two games they’ve been nothing short of spectacular.
Gerrard has been asked to get more going forward and he’s answered. Once against a poorly playing team in Houston, and tonight against a well respected, but broken, Real Salt Lake.
“I needed it to make up for the penalty. But credit to their keeper it was a good save. I’d done everything right, but the keeper gambled and went the right way. The performance was good. The last two performances I was really pleased with and it was nice to get the goal at the end to make up for the penalty miss. But the team was sensational today and there’s a lot of positives to take from this one.” Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy Midfielder
Additionally, Ashley Cole, always quietly going about his work, absolutely dominated at his left back position. He took everything Real Salt Lake had to dish out and he allowed them nothing. Cole has been one of the best LA Galaxy players in 2016. His skill on the ball and his calmness under pressure is unmatched by any defender in Major League Soccer and he’s showing why Bruce Arena had no issues with brining him into the squad at 35 years old.
It should also be noted that Real Salt Lake was missing two key players for most of the night. Burrito Martinez had to exit the game in the twenty third minute with an injury and Real Salt Lake’s leading scorer, Joao Plata, did not play due to an injury earlier in the week.
However, it was really the defense that let them down and it was the offense of the LA Galaxy that ran away with this one.
The LA Galaxy are 4-1-2 with 14 points and currently sit in third place in the Western Conference. However, both San Jose and Sporting KC will have a chance to equal or pull ahead of LA after their Sunday matchup.
The LA Galaxy will train all week ahead of a Sunday matchup in Kansas City.
RSL – Juan Manuel Martinez (Assisted by Luke Mulholland) 16’
LA – Gyasi Zardes (Assisted by Baggio Husidic) 19’
LA – Mike Magee (Assisted by Emmanuel Boateng) 26’
LA – Emmanuel Boateng (Assisted by Gyasi Zardes, Giovani dos Santos) 41’
LA – Giovani dos Santos (Assisted by Emannuel Boateng, Mike Magee) 45’