Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Galaxy picked up their second straight win this week after beating the San Jose Earthquakes at home 2-1 on Sunday, May 14, 2023. In doing so, they reconfirmed their status as Cali Clásico Kings and signaled the league their season isn’t dead yet. It also means they have something to build on as LA now faces four games over the next 12 days, including a midweek El Tráfico date in the U.S. Open Cup next week.
LA Galaxy Post Match
CALI CLÁSICO DUB pic.twitter.com/OMQ6KNBGkF
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 15, 2023
Futile First Half
The Galaxy’s performance was a far cry from the dismal loss last week against Colorado. But one thing that was the same, was their first half futility. LA has only scored twice in the opening frame this season and both goals were after the 40-minute mark.
One of the main culprits of the Galaxy’s wastefulness has been Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. Although he’s undoubtedly been working hard, Chicharito’s touch and finishing have been off. On far too many occasions, attacks have broken down at his feet. When they don’t, he creates chances or a teammate is able to find him in a good area.
Unfortunately, Chicharito hasn’t been taking these chances. Against San Jose, he spurned three clear-cut finishing opportunities in the first half. On one chance, Mark Delgado showed his annoyance with not getting a simple square ball for a tap-in from Chicharito. This after Chicharito had beaten the keeper, but shot wide. The Galaxy kept forcing the issue by trying to find Chicharito, and on chance, the play broke down as Riqui Puig waited for him to get in the box. But where the offense faltered, the defense held firm.
Another quality #LAGalaxy sequence ends with a missed shot from Chicharito, his third shot misses wide right. Scoreless through 25.
— Anthony Bautista (@byanthonyba) May 15, 2023
“I’m really proud of our guys. I thought for 90 minutes, it was a very professional performance. I thought it was our best, by far, best defending game of the season. Just, the collective work. Reactions. The way we dealt with situations. I thought it was very, very good.” It’s hard to argue with Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney on this one. The Galaxy didn’t let the Earthquakes get a sniff of goal until virtually the last kick of the game.
Jalen Neal and Martin Cáceres were immense together as they shut down a high-flying San Jose attack. Lucas Calegari was dangerous on both sides of the ball and Julian Aude played his part perfectly. Tasked with the defensive role of keeping Cristian Espinoza quiet, Espinoza was able to show none of the offensive threats he’s displayed this season. The Galaxy defense also prevented him from getting crosses in to find Jeremy Ebobisse. Together, the duo has 13 goals, but against LA, they were non-existent.
The defensive performance gave the Galaxy the platform to go win the game. And they got their first goal from an unlikely source. At a tender 36 years old, Cáceres has never been considered an offensive threat, but against San Jose, he picked the best time to score his first Galaxy goal. After winning a corner, Cáceres rose highest to meet Memo Rodríguez’s in-swinging corner with the back of his head. The ball flew past San Jose keeper JT Marcinkowski, who could only flap at the ball as it settled into the bottom corner of the goal for the 1-0 Galaxy lead.
The importance of the defense can’t be overstated. It held San Jose to just three shots on the day. Acknowledging this fact, Vanney hailed the back line. “I know we can score goals. But if we defend like we did tonight, we’re going to win many more games.”
Sure the Galaxy gave up a goal to Ousseni Bouda with the last kick of the game due to an injury to Aude, but it seemed an afterthought after an imposing display from Vanney’s back four.
Caceres? Riqui Puig? #LAGalaxy will take it.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 15, 2023
Dejan Joveljić Blackout
Up 1-0 and defensively sound, the Galaxy had no reason to bring on another striker in Dejan Joveljić in stoppage time. But instead of pressuring from the back with a defender, Vanney sought to pressure the ball up the field as high as the Galaxy could. And the game plan paid off.
After being dispossessed, Joveljić made a hustle play to stay with it and pressure Earthquakes Defender Jonathan Mensah into losing the ball. Joveljić stayed with the ball and kept his cool to fire a shot from the six-yard box into the bottom corner for the 2-0 dagger.
Immediately after, Joveljić threw off his shirt and ran to the Galaxy bench, where all his teammates mobbed him. The Galaxy celebrated raw passion in a cathartic display that this team surely needed.
“I blacked out. I’m very happy because I scored, I pressed the guy very good, and obviously, I scored quite a nice goal,” the substitute said of the game-winner and raucous celebration that followed it. “I am very happy because we won the game, finally, two games in a row, three points.”
The Galaxy will need the good feelings to continue when they travel to face Columbus on Wednesday, May 17.
— Jillian Sakovits (@JillianSakovits) May 15, 2023
Defending the Badge – Martin Cáceres
Defensive partner Jalen Neal has been getting plenty of plaudits this season. And after Cáceres’ red card blunder earlier this season left Galaxy fans feeling like Neal was their only dependable center-back, Cáceres needed to rebound. And he did so admirably. The veteran has kept his head down and kept working hard. And it paid off on Sunday with this first Galaxy goal.
Of course, a defender first, Cáceres will most likely be happiest about shutting down a San Jose team that had been one of the best offenses in MLS. If Cáceres can turn in these types of displays weekly, Neal won’t be the only center back in LA getting talked about anymore.
URUGUAYO: Martín Cáceres abrió el marcador en la victoria de Los Ángeles Galaxy 2-1 ante San José Earthquakes por la MLS.
— FÚTBOL UY (@futboluyok) May 15, 2023
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