Home Galaxy RECAP: Berry Stretches and Saves a Point for LA Galaxy Over Real Salt Lake

RECAP: Berry Stretches and Saves a Point for LA Galaxy Over Real Salt Lake

2 min read
The LA Galaxy have earned just two out of the last nine points available to them following the draw to Real Salt Lake.
Greg Vanney’s team must take the energy from Miguel Berry’s late equalizer with them on the road if they aim to take more points from both of this week’s away matches.

The Los Angeles Galaxy hosted Real Salt Lake to a dramatic 2-2 draw last Saturday, May 11th. Contributions from both ends of the roster helped the Galaxy save a point in front of a reported sell-out crowd of 25,220. 

Designated player Gabriel Pec scored to earn his fourth goal contribution of the season, and rotation player Miguel Berry tucked away his first in blue, white, and gold. Their efforts kept the Galaxy just within the top 5 places of the Western Conference, down from 1st place during match weeks eight and nine

Match Action

The Angelenos got off the block much more quickly against Real Salt Lake than they have in recent weeks. They seemed grateful to be playing in the evening and at home rather than earlier in the day and on the road, as they did in the loss against Austin FC and the 0-0 draw to Seattle Sounders.

Joseph Paintsil got on the end of multiple excellent chances in the early stages of this match against RSL, but his play reeked of the caution exhibited against Seattle. 

In the 7th minute, Riqui Puig saw Paintsil speeding into the box and put him one-on-one with keeper Zac MacMath. Instead of taking a shot with his first or even his second touch, Paintsil hesitated and took a third, allowing Salt Lake’s defenders to get into position and easily block the shot that took far too long to arrive. 

Following the match, Greg Vanney mentioned that Joseph Paintsil holds himself to an extremely high standard. It felt as if the Ghanaian took that additional touch because he needed to be sure of his next move, but the hesitancy ended up costing him.

The missed opportunities from the first half seemed to affect Paintsil in the second. He went on an excellent run to get himself one-on-one with MacMath once again. The situation he found himself in looked eerily similar to his first MLS goal, where he calmly slotted the ball into the bottom-left corner. Unfortunately, exasperated by the pressure he placed on himself to convert, Paintsil seemed to be missing the composure he showed in San Jose and rushed to release a shot that MacMath parried without too much difficulty. 

By that point of the match, Real Salt Lake was 2-0 up, following some proficient finishing from Cristian Arango. A looping header in the 19th minute and a simple cut-back goal in the 40th had much of the crowd feeling as if the dark side was taking over on Star Wars night.

Fortunately, the Galaxy’s resistance can count on players besides Paintsil for goals.

Puig was prolific on both sides of the ball in this match, winning 11 out of 11 duels and providing assists for both of his team’s goals.

The first assist to Gabriel Pec mirrored Joseph Paintsil’s chance from the seventh minute, but this time, Pec was definitive. He blasted a first-time shot toward MacMath, who could only get a slight touch on the ball before it rippled into the net and brought Los Angeles within one. 

The Galaxy had been pushing the envelope before finding the first goal, but they looked like a team possessed after drawing blood. They began to insist even more on finding the equalizer, applying pressure until Salt Lake ended up pinned back, focused almost solely on protecting their one-goal advantage. 

Unfortunately for ex-LAFC striker Chicho Arango, his team would be painfully robbed of all three points in stoppage time. Riqui Puig whipped in a looping ball toward the box, and Miguel Berry must have used some sort of mind trick to lull MacMath into a false sense of security. 

MacMaths simply failed to reach out to claim the ball, allowing Berry to stretch out a leg and poke the ball home to make it 2-2 with just 30 seconds to go until the completion of stoppage time.

A Return to Form?

Although earning one point is always better than earning none, it is important to remember LA Galaxy’s last three matches saw a drastic decrease in the amount of points earned per game.

The Galaxy earned an average of 1.8 points per game (ppg) throughout the first nine games of 2024 to earn their temporary stay at the top. This recent three-game run saw the team pick up just .66 ppg and concede twice for every goal scored (4-2) as they fell to fifth. 

Despite this recent dip, several factors have recently lined up that may be encouraging.

 Jalen Neal has now played 225 and logged starts in consecutive matches, indicating he will once again become a significant player for the Galaxy’s backline. The addition of 22-year-old center Emiro Gárces also adds some crucial depth in a position that will be tested in the coming days.

The LA Galaxy plays the first frame of a week-long cross-country road trip tomorrow at 5:00 PM PST against Minnesota United. The team will then immediately travel to North Carolina for their match against Charlotte FC on Saturday, May 18th.

With so many minutes and so little time for recovery, Maya Yoshida, Martin Cáceres, and Jalen Neal may struggle to be the absolute best version of themselves this week. Given this context, it is possible that we will see a debut for Emiro Gárces at some point this week. Vanney may be considering playing the 22-year-old Colombian to give rest to older and recovering legs. 

The upcoming roadtrip does not promise to be an easy one for Los Angeles and it may very well have big implications for their race for first place, but it does give Greg Vanney the chance to truly test the constitution of his squad.
With no players on the injury list it will be all hands on deck versus Minnesota.

PHOTO: LA Galaxy

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