G’s…let’s be honest about something…
Last year’s Los Angeles Galaxy would have lost yesterday’s game against Inter Miami.
The hot and humid Florida climate and dodgy officiating would have combined to deny L.A. any points on the opening day of the season again, our new tech green community kit would already have an L on it, and any good feeling or optimism the team had built during preseason would be quickly forgotten.
But… It’s a new season. With new players, coaches, and ideas.
In short, a new era.
There were numerous moments where the new-look Galaxy could have quit during their 3-2 win on Sunday, including when they gave up a first-half stoppage-time goal and had a dubious penalty given against them.
Instead, Los Angeles showed the resiliency and fight that new Head Coach Greg Vanney has often spoken about while describing the culture he is trying to build. And if the culture that Vanney is trying to instill is a come-from-behind-twice road victory in his first game in charge, then that is a “process” every Galaxy fan should be able to get behind.
Galaxy Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández went a long way towards making amends to Galaxy fans by scoring the tying goal twice. The Mexican striker puts a forgettable first half and even worse last season behind him with the smart first touch, turn, and shot for his first goal of the game and the season. His second was vintage Chicharito; having the instinct to be in the right spot to put chances away.
Anyone could see how much it meant to Hernández, who will be ecstatic that all of his off-season hard work is already paying off.
It could be seen in the way he joyously celebrated his goals.
More importantly, however, the way he celebrated with his teammates after Sacha Kljestan’s winning goal (his first for the club) in the 81st minute shows a player who is entirely committed to the Galaxy and is invested in the club’s culture.
Chicharito’s brace will go a long way toward reinforcing his already palpable renewed sense of self-belief and his performance rightly earned him MLS player of the week honors. The little pea’s two goals are already as many goals as he scored in all of last season. He wouldn’t have gotten his goals, though if Vanney hadn’t made the necessary tactical switches to change the match.
The coach can be commended for recognizing that Chicharito was too isolated up top and brought on Ethan Zubak to play as a second striker in the 58th.
Zubak’s hold-up play and movement on both wings gave the Galaxy captain the necessary space in the box to score the second goal. It was Zubak himself, who assisted him with a low, driven cross from the left for his first.
The former Galaxy II captain performed his role perfectly and made Vanney’s substitution look inspired. And If Zubak can continue to put in the kind of performances he did on Sunday, he gives the Galaxy another viable tactical option.
Similarly, Vanney’s introduction of Kljestan in the 70th minute paid dividends with the winning goal.
After a first half in which the old troubles of last season threatened to resurface, Vanney and the Galaxy were able to turn the game around by scoring three goals in 19 minutes simply by not being afraid to try something new, working hard, and not giving up.
It was by no means perfect, but Galaxy fans have begun to see Vanney’s culture take hold.
Featured Image: Los Angeles Galaxy