The Galaxy honored four iconic players from the team’s illustrious past Friday at the StubHub Center. And it turns out Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones, Carlos Ruiz and Clint Mathis have more in common than just conference championships and MLS Cup appearances.
None of the four ever played on a team that got off to a worse start than this year’s Galaxy. With three points after four games, they entered Friday’s game against the Montreal Impact in 10th place in the 11-team Western Conference.
So Romain Alessandrini, who will wind up an icon himself if he keeps playing the way he has in first five MLS games, did something about that. He scored a first-half goal that sparked the Galaxy to a 2-0 win over the Impact.
Jermaine Jones got the second goal in the 74th minute, finishing a 45-yard run by banking a shot off Montreal defender Kyle Fisher for his first score as a member of the Galaxy, while goalkeeper Clement Diop recorded his first career shutout in his sixth MLS game.
“It was,” Coach Curt Onalfo said “a really complete performance.”
Complete enough to give the Galaxy (2-3) their first home win of the season and lift them into the middle of the conference table, pending the rest of the weekend’s results. And complete enough to ease the memories of last week’s collapse in Vancouver, where the Galaxy let a second-half lead get away in a loss.
That result left much of the team looking at Friday’s game as a must-win affair and they certainly played that way, attacking from the opening whistle en route to a season-high 15 shots while playing their most composed game of the season defensively.
“Pressure’s fun. Pressure’s good,” captain Jelle Van Damme said. “We showed that we can play well and win games. It’s just a start. It’s just one game. We have to keep our feet on the ground and enjoy this victory.”
The Galaxy didn’t wait long to get started, with Alessandrini scoring in the 15th minute to give the Galaxy the only goal they would need.
Ema Boateng, who has established a nice chemistry with his new teammate, set up the score, slipping a pass to a wide-open Alessandrini as he charged toward the box. The French midfielder did the rest, one-timing a left-footed shot in from about 25 yards for his third goal in seven days. It was also the sixth of the season for the Galaxy, with Alessandrini either scoring or assisting on five of them.
“Alessandrini is exactly what we thought he would be,” Onalfo said. “He’s a great player. ... But he’s going to keep getting better.”
And though the Galaxy, who were comfortably in control all night, didn’t seem to need any help, they got some in the closing minutes of the first half when Montreal midfielder Marco Donadel drew a red card for striking Jones in the face, leaving the Impact shorthanded.
So the Galaxy kept the pressure on, with Gyasi Zardes and Jones eventually teaming up for the insurance goal that put the game away.
“This win gives us confidence,” a relieved Onalfo said. “[But] nothing comes easy and we just have to keep building on this and the momentum that we just gained.”
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