The LA Galaxy have the best road record in Major League Soccer (5-2-1) thanks to two superb goals from Jack McBean – his first such goals since 2013 – and penalty kick conversion from second half substitute Romain Alessandrini. The 3-1 victory is a testament to an almost inhuman ability to outwork teams on the road.
The Galaxy made several changes to the lineup as they attempted to rest some starters and include the younger guys into a high altitude challenge that probably should have been more of a test. Especially when you add in a 91-degree temperature at kickoff.
The lineup saw Jelle Van Damme return to the starting lineup after serving his one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. But Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo also decided to rest Romain Alessandrini, while replacing Hugo Arellano, Rafa Garcia, and Jack McInerney.
Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal would get the start up top with Jaime Villarreal filling into the midfield with João Pedro.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) June 22, 2017
But it wasn’t always a walk in the park for the Galaxy who escaped two early and convertible chances from a Colorado Rapids offense that was fast and dangerous to start the game.
In just the 2nd-minute a long pass to Josh Gatt found its mark and was able to push past Galaxy defender Nathan Smith. Diop had to come to cut out the angle and Gatt fired wide of the mark to gift the Galaxy a temporary reprieve.
The Galaxy, however, were not to be outdone. Almost as quickly as the Rapids’ early chances faded, the visitors found themselves winning.
In the 5th-minute Jose Villarreal was able to pressure the Rapids’ Axel Sjoberg into giving the ball cheaply away just outside the box. McBean was ready to pounce on the bouncing ball and hit it first time with his right foot from about 22-yards out. The ball curled away from goalkeeper Tim Howard and pinged off the inside of the left post ending its trip into the back of the net. It was quick, decisive and it gave the Galaxy, to that point, a somewhat undeserving lead.
“Last season I had a good season. Scored a bunch of goals overseas on a loan. Came back, first couple games of the season I didn’t score. Confidence went down a little bit, but it’s a tough sport and it’s one of those things you have to trust your abilities and that’s what happened with the first goal.” Jack McBean, LA Galaxy Striker
But games have a tendency to change because of goals and that definitely swung the momentum away from the Galaxy toward the Rapids as they desperately fought to come back.
Clement Diop, criticized for his play against Houston was forced to make a 16th-minute save on a Dillon Serna shot that was skillfully tipped over the bar and out for a corner kick. It was, at the time, a game saving play and very well taken.
But Serna wasn’t to be denied for long. In the 37th-minute a botched clearance from the Galaxy and a couple of lucky bounces found the defense shifted out of position. Cole came to close down Serna at the top of the box but it was too late. The ball was easily blasted past Diop who was screened on the play and didn’t make a move towards it. But 1-1 was as close as the Rapids would come to being near a lead.
The Galaxy came out of halftime and thanks to wonderful hustle play from João Pedro who made his way into the box and towards the end-line, he was able to open enough room to find McBean streaking towards the front post. The ball was played to his left foot – almost behind the play – and with his back to the direction of the traveling ball – redirected it into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead in the 63rd-minute.
It was a sublime piece of play from both players and really shocked the Rapids to their core. McBean was simply able to ride his opponent into the near post and used his body to shield the ball from attack. Then with the deftest of touches, he
McBean was simply able to ride his opponent into the near post and used his body to shield the ball from attack. Then with the deftest of touches, he kicked it into the net.
Pedro, for his part, was able to burst past two or three defenders and cross the ball back toward the penalty spot. It was hustle to its core and reminiscent of what made the win possible.
The 71st-minute saw Alessandrini get on the board and convert a penalty kick that was created almost entirely through his combination play with Bradford Jamieson. After a couple nice give-and-
After a couple of nice give-and-go’s Jamieson, with speed built up, stormed into the box. Kortne Ford was the only player left to challenge the young speedster and he stuck a foot in as Jamieson quickly pulled the ball away. It was a clear penalty and was finished with the class you’d expect from Alessandrini.
Alessandrini has now been involved in 17 of 24 goals for the Galaxy this year (8 goals, 7 assists, 1 PK created, 1 Own Goal created). He’s quickly becoming a contender for league MVP and probably will have the team MVP already wrapped up in the next couple of weeks.
But the star for tonight was McBean and the cavalcade of young players who were able to out-work a home team that was riding a three-game winning streak. McBean should be applauded for his hard work off the ball and he should also tip his hat to Jose Villarreal who did a ton of work pulling strings all night for the striker.
“In the case of Jack, he had some opportunities early on and he scored last week in the Open Cup which gave him confidence. Winning the game from his opportunities – that’s what we want. He’s got experience, he can hold the ball, and he knows how to play. It’s just a matter of him finding rhythm and that confidence.” Curt Onalfo, LA Galaxy Head Coach
The Galaxy were spaced perfectly for most of the night and they severely limited most chances the Rapids had. It was a team victory that Onalfo should be proud of and one that should see the entire team carry momentum into the weekend. Especially after a somewhat disappointing draw with the Houston Dynamo.
The club is now on an eight-game undefeated streak (4-0-4) and has climbed to fifth in the Western Conference. They’ve also equaled their 2016 counterparts by earning 22 points through 15 games.
The Galaxy will next host the number one team in the conference as Sporting KC will come to town. The Galaxy are just 1-3-3 on the year at StubHub Center and need to desperately rectify the growing inequities between their home and road records.
But for now, they’ll enjoy another road victory. And for Jack McBean, he’ll get to enjoy being the star of the road show for another 48 hours or so.