Carson, Calif. — The LA Galaxy hosted the Chicago Fire in front of a sold out crown on Friday night for the first MLS game of the 2015 season.
Two years ago, LA also kicked off the 2013 season versus Chicago where Mike Magee scored a hat trick in a 4-0 rout against the Fire. Magee was traded to Chicago later that year for the rights to Robbie Rogers.
LA hoped to replicate that score line throughout the night against a poor and out of sync Fire team.
Bruce Arena surprised a few people by putting Brian Rowe in goal instead of Jaime Penedo, Kenney Walker in midfield, and Jose Villarreal on the left flank, who is taking over for Landon Donovan.
LA did win the game 2-0, they could have had a few more goals but luck just wasn’t on their side on most of their chances.
The Galaxy dominated the first half and they attacked and attacked but just could not find the back of the net. Many crosses did not find their intended targets and shots went wide of the mark. They had seven shots and one on target while Chicago had two shots, one on target in the first half.
Though the Fire started the 2nd off stronger, they did not register a shot on goal as Brian Rowe was untested for most of the evening.
The game changed when Arena brought in Baggio Husidic for Kenney Walker in the 63rd minute. Husidic brought more control and attacking options to the midfield and it showed.
The first goal of the game came two minutes later when Chicago defender, Jeff Larentowicz, tried to clear the ball in the box but mishit it and had it land in front Villarreal who buried it in the back of the net.
Keane put the game to bed in the 81st minute by scoring a beautiful volley when Omar Gonzalez played the ball over the top and Husidic flicked it to Keane.
Ishizaki and Villarreal were standouts in the game dominating the Fire on the flanks. Ishizaki found his way down the right side many times while Villarreal drifted toward the middle on numerous occasions on offense as well as serving crosses into the box. It will be interested to see him in the left midfield role moving forward.
“Bruce [Arena] has been speaking to me pretty closely, so I’m just following orders and trying to progress every day. I have just got to sprint longer. I was communicating well with Robbie Rogers out there, and I think we did pretty well. Defensively, I thought I was getting into a good spot, so going forward it’s just going to get better every time. I was focused, and I had everyone supporting me from the team, so I was happy,” said the Homegrown player.
The Galaxy defense and Rowe was also on point for most of the game earning a clean sheet. Leonardo and Gonzalez were able to extinguish any threats Chicago made holding them to only one shot on goal that came in the first half.
Apparently, Penedo was dealing with some knocks from preseason so Rowe got the nod in goal. Unimas reported that Penedo and the team were still in contract negotiations so that was why he didn’t start but Arena rebuffed those reports.
“Jaime has had some knocks in preseason and he hasn’t played that much. We felt that Brian was a little ahead of Jaime at this point,” Arena said after the game.
The Galaxy are unbeaten at home for 17 straight matches dating back to March 8th, 2014.
LA made two additions to their squad before the game signing MLS veteran Edson Buddle and Finnish international Mika Vayrynen.
This is Buddle’s third stint with the club spending the last two years with the Colorado Rapids. The forward is one of only eight players in MLS to have scored over 100 goals and helped LA earn the Supporters’s Shield in 2010 and MLS Cup in 2012.
Vayrynen is a 33-year-old midfielder that has spent his career playing in Finland, Netherlands, and England. “Mika is a player that brings additional experience to our midfield,” said Arena. “We saw his abilities during preseason and are confident he can contribute to our team this season. We are happy he will be a part of our group going forward.”
The Galaxy takes on the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on March 15th at 7 P.M. EST.
(image courtesy of Getty)