The LA Galaxy got two goals in the second half to top the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory at Pay Pal Park.
The win for the Galaxy is their second in as many games, and they’ve now lost just once in their last ten league games (5-1-4). And while the club remains in 13th out of 14th place in the Western Conference, after the win on Wednesday night, they sit just five points back from FC Dallas who hold the last playoff spot in the West, and they have a better PPG than two of the teams ahead of them (.
With at least two games in hand on most teams, the Galaxy now find themselves within the “margin of error” should they win both of their game in hands.
What did we learn?
TYLER BOYD IS ON FIRE
Tyler Boyd can’t stop scoring. And he’s one of the biggest reasons the Galaxy have just one loss in their last ten games. Boyd has four goals and an assist in his last five games, and he’s teeing off on sleeping defenses across every competition.
Vanney calls Boyd a “consistent runner.” His somewhat direct approach to the game gets him played into space even while hugging the wings or cutting inside. On Wednesday night it was his ability to not only evade tackles but use his quickness and speed to open up space for his shot.
“I think Tyler [Boyd] is one of our guys who is a consistent runner,” Vanney said. “He is looking to run through the lines. He’s looking to put himself in dangerous positions because he’s active. He’s always looking for the ball at his feet.
“We have so many good passers in addition to good soccer players, that Ty (Boyd) running gives himself the opportunity and gives those guys a target that they can play to. In addition to that, he can do the one-on-one stuff.”
On his 16th-minute goal, Boyd ran a defender into the ground before curling a right-footed shot into the side netting. And it came during a stretch that both Vanney and defender Raheem Edwards called the best bit of soccer the Galaxy may have ever played under Vanney.
“First 20 minutes I thought that was probably the best football I think I played with the LA Galaxy since I’ve been here,” Edwards gushed.
Boyd is having one of those stretches where all you can do is keep playing him. And between him and Riqui Puig, they may be offsetting the total lack of production from the Galaxy’s no. 9’s.
RIQUI PUIG IS MAKING IT LOOK EASY — AND IT’S NOT
Riqui Puig is on fire. And he may even be flying under the radar while being nearly impossible to slow down. The 24-year-old Designated Player isn’t just carrying the Galaxy on his shoulders, he’s carrying all their baggage, the busses, and even the training cones with him.
Puig, in his last eight regular-season matches, has four goals and five assists. He had one goal and two assists in his previous 16 games.
He’s wearing the captain’s armband with ease, and apparently, that isn’t a burden. In fact, it may be the reason for his recent uptick in scoring.
His night was capped off with a 40-yard run up the gut of the San Jose defense before firing a shot with his right foot that wrapped around the San Jose Goalkeeper. The 50th-minute goal was the perfect response to a team that struggled to close out the first half. And the game-tying goal allowed Dejan Joveljic to bury the penalty kick just 11 minutes later.
The Galaxy have a generational talent in Puig. Keeping him happy this year is one thing. Keeping him happy for the next three years is something else.
GALAXY AMONGST THE HOTTEST TEAMS IN MLS
You’re forgiven if the 28 days between their last Leagues Cup game and the resumption of league play put you into hibernation for a bit. But the Galaxy have quietly been tearing the league apart in since May 31.
They are first in the Western Conference in points per game (1.9) and rank fourth overall in the league in that same time period.
But the really shocking thing is how they haven’t moved out of 13th place during that 10-game stretch. But the 20 points gained in 10 games has the Galaxy almost back in contention for a playoff spot. Portland and Kansas City sit just one point north of the Galaxy, and Austin is just four points away. Dallas, the holder of the last playoff position right now is five points away.
The Galaxy hold two games in hand over Austin, KC, and Portland and one game in hand over Dallas.
The other elephant in the room is that this same stretch of ten games is the first stretch of games played since Chris Klein was fired.
There are two ways to argue the impact of the firing. One could say it lit a fire under the Galaxy players to see major changes around them. When the president of the club isn’t safe, no one is safe. And Vanney mentioned as much in his first comments following Klein’s release.
But the more likely scenario is that the club and the players could finally breathe. The boycott subsided, and a major figure in the front office was no longer linking his remaining tenure with the immediate results on the field. The pressure — already tremendous for a professional athlete — became something less insurmountable.
Regardless of the reason, the Galaxy are on the verge of making some noise. In fact, you should already be able to hear their footsteps coming from down the hall.
CERRILLO IS IMPRESSIVE
There’s this tendency to look at 22-year-old Edwin Cerrillo and ask if he’s enjoying getting his first start in Major League Soccer. But if you did, you’d look like an idiot. The FC Dallas academy prospect has started 64 games in MLS — including the last two for the Galaxy — and has 89 total games played.
But his calm mentality on and off the field hides the maturity of this young player.
“I think my mentality since I got here, I wanted to contribute in any way possible. Whatever the team needs, whatever Greg [Vanney] wants from me,” he said after the game. ” And, I think I’m doing my role. I have good players around me, so it makes it that much easier. We have two games played, and I feel good. I feel great. I feel comfortable. We just have to keep it going.”
Trying to find a replacement for Gaston Brugman seemed like a ridiculously tall order. And it is. Because Cerrillo doesn’t play on the same offensive level as Brugman. But what Cerrillo is doing is doing is showing intelligence, patience, and determination.
He has also mastered one of the most difficult skills of a new player coming onto a team with Douglas Costa and Puig. He knows how to stay out of the way.
“Yeah. Also, to your point of me kind of staying out of the way, they’re technically gifted, and they can take players on. I just have to be there just in case they don’t get around them and try to kill any attack from the other team. And kind of just give that stability and let those players do their thing,” Cerrillo said in response to my questions about his ability to let those guys do what they’re best at.
Cerrillo has been an impressive pickup. And if the Galaxy can get him to buy into the project long-term, he’s going to be one of those fan favorites.
INJURY UPDATES ON COSTA & PUIG
“As far as the injuries, Douglas [Costa] was a dislocated shoulder. He got it back in place, and we’ll see how he’s doing as they reassess over the next couple of days and see how that goes. I’m not quite sure what the next steps are there.
“Riqui [Puig] is okay. He was feeling something in his quad. I don’t think it was specifically muscular pull or tear or anything along those lines. I think it was something else. Not exactly sure. But he’s okay. He’ll turn it around.”