Carson, CA. – Any lingering questions about midfielder Perry Kitchen’s potential impact on the LA Galaxy likely were answered in Sunday’s season-opening, 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers in front of 25,462 at StubHub Center.
Kitchen, who joined the Galaxy during the off-season after playing the last two years in Scotland and Denmark, had a major role in helping shut down a Timbers attack that led the Western Conference in scoring a year ago with 60 goals.
Kitchen’s performance was especially impressive, considering he was facing, among others, last year’s MLS Most Valuable Player, Diego Valeri. Kitchen helped limit him to three total shots, including just one on target.
“They have a lot of quality,” he said of the Timbers, “but we dealt with them pretty well.”
He also left quite an impression on his teammates and Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid.
“I thought Perry did very well,” Schmid said. “When you look at their midfield, Valeri’s a fantastic player. I thought his influence on this game was not as great as other games he’s played.
“I thought (David) Guzman had a bigger influence because the ball wasn’t going to Valeri. They were playing more through (Sebastian) Blanco and more through Guzman. Whenever you can force them not to build their game through Diego Valeri I think it’s a benefit.
“And obviously Kitchen had a lot to do with that.”
Veteran left-back Ashley Cole went so far as to say Kitchen was the kind of holding midfielder the Galaxy could have used in 2017, when the five-time MLS Cup champions slumped to their worst record (8-18-8) in franchise history.
“He was everywhere,” Cole said of the 26-year-old native of Indianapolis. “I think he limited Valeri to a few touches, a few chances and we knew before the game he was their key player.
“He was outstanding. He wants to work, he listens, he understands the game. For sure we needed someone like that last season.”
Kitchen, who admitted he’s his own toughest critic – “Yeah, typically,” he said with a laugh – said he thought he was “OK” on Sunday. He also said getting the victory was particularly satisfying.
“Again the main thing is to get the win, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “All of us can be better and we’ll need to be consistent throughout the year to get results.
“But saying that we put in the effort and the work tonight. It doesn’t matter how you do it, it’s important getting the three points. If we had played amazing and lost, it doesn’t mean anything.
“The main thing is get the win,” he continued. “Which we did.”