The LA Galaxy battled back to earn three points in a crowd-less Cali Clasico.
The LA Galaxy returned to Dignity Health Sports Park for the first MLS match at the stadium in 175 days. While there were no fans in attendance, that didn’t stop the team from playing with pride as they came-from-behind to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes 3-2.
The win brings the Galaxy win streak to two and they are now unbeaten in their last three games dating back to the final group stage match of the MLS is Back tournament.
The Galaxy fought back from a deficit twice and showed signs of the attacking style and system that has been promised since the arrival of Guillermo Barros Schelotto and his coaching staff.
While they nearly doubled the shot output of their opponents and created plenty on chances from the run of play, it was the set pieces that yielded the rewards as the team converted from a free-kick, penalty kick, and corner kick, respectively.
After protesting a mid week game against the Seattle Sounders, as the team stood in solidarity with various teams and leagues across the country to condemn police brutality, the Galaxy was able to benefit from the extra rest as the starting lineup remained unchanged from the previous week’s win at LAFC.
The Galaxy will travel to Portland for another scheduled mid-week game against the Timbers. We will see if the team’s renewed fighting spirit can continue and avenge another loss from the Orlando tournament.
Let’s take a look at who left the Earthquakes shook in this high scoring affair:
TOP OF THE CLASS
Cristian Pavon had is way on the left hand side of the field proving to be a danger in front of goal for the full 90 minutes.
Pavon continues to lead the team in goals, assists, and shots and it is no wonder that he was once again the Galaxy’s five-star man. Pavon has a knack for creating space to find his shot in addition to serving the ball in the right spot (although his teammates are not always in those spots).
Pavon easily slotted home his fourth goal of the season after a questionable handball in the penalty box. While the penalty was his only goal of the evening, his shots on target kept San Jose goalkeeper, Daniel Vega, active.
With all due respect to his teammates, if Pavon is able to change a game with this current starting lineup, then he will continue to make a case to be the best player in Major League Soccer once he is joined by a fully healthy complement of designated players and mid season reinforcements.
Julian Araujo is a playing with a lot of confidence in his newfound role in the the midfield. He once again put in a professional shift by connecting on several key passes in addition to making some important defensive plays. All while playing on a yellow card after the 56th minutes.
Araujo is being asked to play out of his natural position, but was still able to showcase his ability to defend on the right hand side. His physicality in this game made him look like a league veteran.
If Araujo continues this run of form, he may force Schelotto into making a decision to keep him on the field once newly acquired winger Yony Gonzalez joins the team.
Schelotto has shown that he isn’t afraid to start the in-form player over the more experienced one as evidenced by the continued confidence in central defender, Nick Depuy.
LA Galaxy fans and supporters are enjoying the play of the Lompoc native as his star is on the rise.
After missing the first two games of the season recovering from an injury, Dan Steres has been one of the Galaxy’s most consistent players.
In addition to being a pillar on the back line, Steres also joined the scoresheet adding a goal from a header on free kick play, although he self-admittedly claimed the ball went in off his neck and shoulder.
According to OptaJack statistics, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored more headed goals for the LA Galaxy than Steres since he joined the club in 2016. That type of rarefied air shows how important a piece of the team Steres has been in recent years.
As a final note, Steres has done an excellent job filling in as captain while Jonathan Dos Santos eases his way back into the lineup. Steres’ leadership across the back line will be crucial as the team looks to continue to gain momentum in this second phase of league play.
Sebastian Lletget has looked like the player he once was prior to suffering a horrific foot injury in March of 2017. Lletget has been able to find the back of the net and dictate the offense in back-to-back matches.
The boost in confidence could not come at a better time as the Galaxy have not had their preferred starting eleven for the entire season and the burden of production partially falls on the shoulders of the Galaxy’s current longest-tenured player.
It does need to be said that while Lletget walked away on the night with a goal and an assist, this performance was more of the exception than the rule compared to his performance over the last couple seasons.
Now that Lletget has shown what he is capable of, the Galaxy will look for him to continue to deliver goals and assists with more consistency.
Efrain Alvarez was subbed on in the 62nd minute and was given ample time to leave his footprint on the game.
Alvarez has struggled to earn playing time and make an impact throughout this truncated season, but in this game, he showed the spark and skill that has been much-needed on this Galaxy side.
Even though Alvarez was only on the field for 28 minutes, he managed to be directly involved in the plays that led to the second and third LA Galaxy goals en route to securing three points.
Alvarez will look to build on this performance and his “Super Sub” role may develop into something the Galaxy can rely on.
Rolf Feltscher had a bit of a disappointing match as he failed to make his presence known and both San Jose goals came from his side of the field.
While Feltscher was not solely responsible for both goals, he did end up looking foolish on the second goal as he allowed the youngest player in Earthquakes history ample time and space to send in a shot that beat an outstretched David Bingham.
To make matters worse for Feltscher, he was out-shined by the player who is next in line on the depth chart. Feltscher had a solid start to the season but has struggled to find his footing in both season reboots.
Soccer can be a fickle game and you have to hope that Feltscher can regain some of his confidence that he had back in March to find a way to be an impactful player in the remaining matches.
Joe Corona had a quiet game.
Paired with Perry Kitchen in a defensive midfield role, Corona could have done more to link up with Pavon and Lletget while leaving Kitchen to patrol in front of the defense. However, it was Kitchen who was inserting himself into the offense.
Schelotto subbed Corona off for Jonathan Dos Santos in the 62nd minute and the game changed after that with the Galaxy sealing the comeback.
If Kitchen continues to be serviceable, Corona may find some difficulty receiving playing time in a crowded midfield.
Below you can find all player grades plus their per game average rating.
|Player||Position||Game Grade||Season Average|
|Jonathan Dos Santos||M||2||2.5|