Week 5 of the MLS season and Austin FC would return to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy. So far, LA have opened up the season to great success, winning 3 of their 4 matches and placing 3rd in the Western Conference. Much of these results has been attributed to the recent form of star player, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who has already nabbed 6 goals and 1 assist.
As for Austin FC, their week 4 loss would impact today’s matchup — Captain Alex Ring was shown a red card and was therefore not available for selection. His absence would surely be missed as Austin would lose the matchup 2-0 in unfamiliar fashion.
In this lackluster performance, the Verde seemed disorganized and unable to produce the sort of offense that we have been accustomed to.
The starting 11 saw slight changes. Rock-solid Brad Stuver remained in net. On defense, Hector Jimenez replaced Nick Lima at right back while the rest of the line (Romaña, Besler and Kolmanič) stayed intact. Daniel Pereira would start in place of Alex Ring, joining Pochettino and Fagundez. Jared Stroud and Cecilio Dominguez remained on their respective wings while Danny Hoesen would reclaim his starting spot as the number 9.
Austin FC would get tested early and often, the Galaxy would spend a lot of time attacking the right side, exposing newcomer Hector Jimenez on the overlaps. Only 6 minutes in and Chicharito would have his first close chance, driving the ball over the crossbar after receiving it right outside the 6-yard box.
In the 19th minute, Galaxy’s Efrain Alavarez would dribble past Kolmanič and get in prime position but his shot would drift wide, hitting the side of the net. Austin’s closest chance came on a 3 vs 3 situation but due to a lack of decisiveness, Jared Stroud would waste the opportunity by simply pinging it to the keeper.
We would encounter more drama in the 25th minute as Chicharito would earn a penalty after a clumsy encounter with Romaña. Unfortunately for the home team, Big-Time Brad Stuver would save his shot keeping the game scoreless. The Galaxy’s first goal finally came in the 34th minute by way of Sebastian Lletget. The US international would beat Jimenez on the through ball and curl it around Stuver for the lead. Jimenez was injured on the play and had to be stretchered off, in what appeared to be a knee injury. Wolff brought on Nick Lima to replace him.
Early in the second half things would not get better for the away side. The Galaxy would earn many chances getting in behind the Verde defenders. Austin failed to keep their structure and players were quick to jump around. It was very clear that Daniel Pereira was not suited to play Ring’s position, as he was quick to turn and dribble instead of sitting back.
Wolff would try to inject some energy into this team through a triple substitution. In the 59th minute, Redes, Berhalter and Manneh were brought on in place of Stroud, Fagundez and Hoesen. Tactically, Pereira would be pushed further up and Berhalter would stay back to take on the role of Alex Ring.
ATXFC would come alive for a bit, and for the first time, could pass the ball around in opponent’s final third. Kekuta Manneh would earn a few quality chances, shooting a close one right above the crossbar.
In the 70th minute, Wolff would make his final substitution, replacing Kolmanič for Aedan Stanley. Unfortunately for Stanley, he would be exposed 5 minutes later on an overlap which would lead to the second goal. After breaking free, Araujo would find Chicharito in the box for his 7th goal of the season. The insurance goal would ultimately guarantee the Galaxy a win as the Verde would fail to produce any threats in the last few minutes of regular time.
At this point, a 2-3 record on the road is an accomplishment on it own. Hopefully we will see a rebounded team next Sunday against Nashville.