Carson, CA – In their first preseason exhibition game, the LA Galaxy and Club Tijuana (Xolos) tied 1-1 at StubHub Center under somewhat rainy skies. In a game that can be defined by two different lineups per each 45-minute half, LA trotted out it’s most likely starters — minus several big names — and a bunch of younger kids, in front of a mostly reserve Xolos side.
The Galaxy were without Designated Players Giovani dos Santos (National Team), and Romain Alessandrini (visa acquisition), and were also missing Gyasi Zardes (knee), Robbie Rogers (ankle), and João Pedro (visa acquisition). But Jermain Jones, and Captain Jelle Van Damme anchored a lineup that was quick and showed some speed when it got rolling.
Perhaps it was to be expected, especially after an offseason that saw the Galaxy get significantly younger, but it was the veterans who really proved themselves on the night. The aforementioned Jones and Van Damme seemed confident on the ball, and Ashley Cole and Daniel Steres played with the confidence you’d expect. Rafael Garcia, a replacement for the injured Rogers, took up the right back position with Raul Mendiola, possibly in Alessandrini’s likely starting spot (but on the other side) playing in front of him.
Baggio Husidic proved once again that he’ll play just about anywhere as he manned the middle next to Jones and Sebastian Lletget, fresh off his first International appearances for the U.S., played wide left in the midfield. Jack McBean and Ariel Lassiter, both playing for Gyasi Zardes and Giovani dos Santos, played up top for the starters.
There many good buildups from the inexperienced version of LA. Jones and Steres both had open headers on goal early in the first half that should’ve seen the Galaxy up by a goal or two. And Jones fired off a dangerous shot that skimmed off a Tijuana defender to ping the outside of the post.
The Galaxy did well to hold a majority of the possession and the build up play was promising if incomplete. But it should be incomplete from a team that is just weeks into the preseason.
Head Coach Curt Onalfo, making his debut of sorts as the man in charge on the bench, said to think of both halves as two 45-minute mini games. And in that, the Galaxy were mostly successful. Defensively there were lapses, especially on the right-hand side that saw Raul Mendiola and Rafa Garcia get turned a couple of times, but TJ mostly squandered their chances.
A 0-0 halftime score seemed appropriate and the starters realistically did their best to find the back of the net. Even if the play and passes from Jermaine Jones seemed to catch his teammates off-guard more often than not. It’ll be that recognition, understanding where and when Jones likes to play to the strikers that may be the most important thing. And there just hasn’t been much time to develop that timing or that understanding yet. But Jones is capable of producing the amazing pass and when he finally gets to pair with Pedro, those two players could be a great pairing.
#LAGalaxy XI for the 2nd half: Diop; Smith, Diallo, Romney, Turnley; Jamieson IV, Aguilar, Ja. Villarreal, Boateng; Zubak; Jo. Villarreal
In what can only be described as a line change — 11 players off and 11 players on — the Galaxy trotted out a bunch of the younger kids with a couple guys who did well in their time on the field.
Jose Villarreal had a very good night. Getting the ball deep several times and scoring the only goal, Villarreal did himself no harm. He was versatile in where he received the ball and showed a bit of the form that has made him a promising player. And if he’s going to make something of himself, this year might be one of his last chances.
Emmanuel Boateng also had himself and energetic 45-minutes as he ran from one end of the field to the next but was most dangerous in his assists to Villarreal. Boateng made a TJ player miss on a nice cutback just inside the box on the extreme left side of the field and feathered a perfect pass on the ground that was easily tapped into the back of the net.
Dave Romney gave the visitors back a goal almost immediately on the other side of the field when he was whistled for a tug on a Xolos attacker deep inside the box. Onalfo labeled it as “soft” but was also critical of the timing. Saying that it’s unfortunate to let a team right back into the game like that.
Trialist Miguel Aguilar — the LA Galaxy acquired his right from DC United earlier this year — also had a couple moments that may help him make this team. He had the pass to Boateng that saw the goal scored and he drew a big yellow card and a foul at the top fo the box that saw the Galaxy have a dangerous set piece opportunity.
Clement Diop played well in goal, making a couple great saves and also showing some inexperience, but generally did well to keep the ball out of the back of the net. He’s a high-risk, high-reward type of ‘keeper that will make the occasional blunder but also displays some incredible feats of athleticism. He’s clearly the Galaxy’s number two goalkeeper.
The LA Galaxy will next travel to Las Vegas where they will face off against San Jose in another preseason exhibition match. And Onalfo was keen to see his guys push their minutes in each game. Saying that 45-minutes was a good start for today and that the next game they’re keen to push that to 60-minutes.
For LA, it was an expected start to the preseason and trying to take anything more than that would be to place importance where there simply isn’t any.
LA – Jose Villarreal (Assisted by Emmanuel Boateng, Miguel Aguilar) 52’