CARSON, Calif. – If there ever was a perfect fit, it’s Joe Corona and the Galaxy.
The 28-year-old, who joined the five-time MLS Cup champions on March 6 after leaving Liga MX side Club Tijuana, has looked comfortable and confident in his new environment, with Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers in front of 23,820 at Dignity Health Sports Park the latest affirmation of his value to the club.
“He gives us a new dynamic in the middle of the field,” Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said after the win. “Since he came here the team feels very comfortable with how he manages the ball and the game.”
The feeling is mutual, Corona said.
“I feel very comfortable playing alongside great players,” he said. “I’m happy that the chemistry has been good.”
The 5-foot-8, 155-pounder, who was born in Los Angeles and is a veteran of 23 caps with the U.S. men’s national team, has blended in seamlessly almost from the moment he arrived in Southern California to begin his Major League Soccer career. He started and went the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas on March 9 – just three days after he joined the Galaxy – and started again and went the distance again a week later in a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United.
He went the full 90 in Sunday’s victory and said he wasn’t particularly surprised he’s become an important part of the team so quickly.
“I was already playing in the regular season (in Mexico), so I think that helps a lot coming into the game physically fit,” he said of his time with Club Tijuana, with whom he began his professional career in 2010. “I think it was just a matter of training together, having a couple of games together and that was it.”
Corona has been a solidifying presence in the midfield, but he couldn’t help but pass along some of the credit for his strong play to the likes of Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget.
“Ever since I got here, we’ve been working side by side,” he said. “We talk about it before the game and in training … that let’s try and have the ball because we have the technical side. So we try to take advantage of that, and it’s really working out.
“Just try to also help the team defensively, make that sacrifice for the team. When we have the ball keep it and try to go forward.”
Corona also said the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored both Galaxy goals Sunday, and Romain Alessandrini has made his job easier. Ibrahimovic, by the way, went the entire game Sunday in his first appearance since a season-opening victory over the Chicago Fire on March 2. He had spent almost a month rehabbing a sore left Achilles tendon.
“Those two players are game-changers,” Corona said. “Any time of the game they can score a goal and make a difference. They can get us a lead.
“I think for us in the midfield it’s easier to get the ball and try to work for them and just be there to help out. They’re very good players quality-wise and are helping the team a lot.”
Corona hadn’t been getting much playing time with Club Tijuana when the Galaxy made the deal using target allocation money, and he remains deeply appreciative the team and Schelotto gave him the opportunity to boost his career.
“I’m very thankful with Guillermo for his confidence ever since I got here,” he said. “I will keep working to get better and better and help the team as much as I can.”