After dropping their first two matches at home, the LA Galaxy mark their first win of the season with a 2-1 road victory over the Real Salt Lake.
With a 0-2 start and six consecutive losses in Salt Lake, it must have felt like a must-win road game for new LA Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo and his team on Saturday. He certainly seemed pleased after securing his first saying afterwards:
“This win means a lot. I’ve worked my whole life for this job. I want to win and be successful, and we’re going to be. It’s good to get the first win under my belt and the first of many, many more.”
It wasn’t easy. Salt Lake got off to a quick start when forward Yura Movsisyan scored on Galaxy goalie Clement Diop 11 minutes in. Salt Lake was the more aggressive team until the 44th minute when Kyle Beckerman was forced to leave after receiving his second yellow card.
Onalfo wasted no time after the ejection encouraging his team to press and exploit the man advantage as reported by Adam Serrano of the Galaxy Insider. His group responded in the 69th minute when Dave Romney scored his first goal of his MLS career off a Romain Alessandrini pass. The Galaxy continued to press and in the 78th minute took the lead on a goal from Ema Boateng off a second Alessandrini assist.
The Galaxy was again not at full strength as Gyasi Zardes, Ashley Cole, Robbie Rogers and Brian Rowe did not play due to injuries and Jelle Van Damme was out because of a suspension. While dealing with a depleted roster is unfortunate, it does give the younger players valuable playing time and experience which can only prove helpful in the long run.
Saturday’s group responded with a strong and steady performance as evidenced by their receiving only one yellow card compared to the six given to Salt Lake. The hard-fought come-from-behind victory was not lost on the players.
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“It’s a big win for him and us,” Nathan Smith told Serrano after the match. “It’s his first win of the season, and that’s big. Curt has been saying that we’ve been playing well and we were just unfortunate in the first two games. We’re just coming out and playing our game.”
With his first win on record, Onalfo can probably relax a bit while focusing on training as the team enters a two-week break due to international play. They next face off with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April first in Vancouver followed by home game vs. Montreal on April seventh.
Meanwhile, the LA Galaxy II opens their 2017 regular season at home this Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. New Galaxy II head coach Mike Muñoz, who took over when Onalfo was promoted, will be leading from the sidelines for the first time a team that has qualified for the playoffs in all three years of competition.