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Galaxy rain goals on Union in blowout win

Gyasi Zardes Juninho LA Galaxy 06202015

Photo by USA TODAY Sports


CARSON, Calif. – While Gyasi Zardes has been making a strong impression in the red, white, and blue of the U.S. Men’s National Team this year, his output in blue and gold for his club side had so far been mixed.

Until Saturday that is, when the LA Galaxy forward notched a fierce goal, added two assists, and generally terrorized the Philadelphia Union defense all night long, as the Galaxy rolled to a 5-1 win before a jubilant home crowd of 23, 875.

Zardes’ lone goal came in the 56th minute, when he gained control of the ball at midfield and sprang a wide open Robbie Keane with a long ball down the left flank. Keane patiently drew the defense to him, then fired a tasty forty-yard cross onto the foot of the streaking Zardes. Zardes elevated and converted the chance into the roof netting.

“I love playing alongside Robbie” said Zardes in the locker room after the match. “Robbie will find you. If you’re running, he will find you.”

As pretty as the goal was, it was Zardes’ pace and distribution that undressed the Philadelphia back line relentlessly. Though he will not be credited with a goal or an assist, the twenty three year old created the opening goal in the 23rd minute, when he corralled a Baggio Husidic squared ball, fired off a shot which hammered off the goal post and directly back to Husidic, who neatly brought the ball down and stroked it past the sprawling Philadelphia goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre for the game’s opening tally.

“I’m growing as a player, and I’m just trying to be as effective as possible in the attack” continued Zardes, discussing his offensive outburst. “It was a veteran lineup out there.  They find the game. Just being more aware of my teammates has helped me as a player.” 

Zardes’ two official assists were both off balls expertly played back to teammates waiting at the edge of the area. The first was to Juninho, who uncharacteristically brought the ball down rather than fire off a long-range shot, ducked under a charging Sheanon Williams, and poked the ball past Sylvestre to double the Galaxy lead.

Sebastian Lletget was also the beneficiary of Zardes’ largess, taking a perfectly-weighted pass from Zardes as he sped to the penalty spot and fired the ball into the back netting. It was the 22-year-old newcomer’s third goal in as many games.

“I feel good.  I think physically, that was the big issue in the beginning, but fitness-wise, I’m really coming along” said Lleget, who was signed by the Galaxy from West Ham in May. “Three goals, three games…as soon as the next game starts I forget about all that. I just want to get another one.”

Stefan Ishizaki added a highlight goal of his own, slamming an Omar Gonzalez headed back pass into the turf on the volley to beat the hapless Sylvestre once again. It was his first goal of the season.

“Obviously, it’s a real confidence booster” said Ishizaki of his goal. “But I’m thinking more about other parts of my game, my dribbling, making good decisions.”

The fact that the Galaxy scored five goals is promising for a team that has struggled in the final third at times this season. But the fact that the five goals were scored by five different Galaxy players was key to the team’s success tonight – all five goals came off some form of combination play – and will be critical to the defending champions moving forward. The Galaxy have been lambasted with injuries so far this season, and tonight was perhaps the first time since opening night in March that they’ve fielded an entire first choice starting eleven.

“It is good to have some of these players back” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena after the match. “It gives us a little more quality, obviously, in the final third, but we can still play better than we did tonight.”

To the Union’s credit, this game could have gone differently. Philadelphia dominated the first fifteen minutes of play, earning six corners in the first quarter hour, and when Zach Pfeffer forced a diving save out of Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo in the 8th minute, it was the Galaxy on the back foot. Cristian Maidana clanged a rocket of the crossbar in the 72nd minute, Maurice Edu missed over the bar on a low header in the 12th minute.

“The first twenty, twenty five minutes wasn’t great from us” said Galaxy winger Stefan Ishizaki, “I think we can play more consistently.”

Unlike many teams that come to Los Angeles and bunker in in hopes of nabbing a draw and a point before getting back on a long flight home, Philadelphia pressed the attack whenever it was available, and the result was an entertaining and high scoring match.

But Zardes’ tenacious runs, coupled with creative wide play from Husidic and Ishizaki, slowly unraveled the Union. C.J. Sapong’s picturesque back-to-goal strike in the 58th minute was well taken, but by then the Union were fighting a steep uphill battle against a fluid and increasingly confident LA side.

“I don’t think we were as dominant as the score would indicate” continued Arena. “It was far from a complete victory tonight, and we’ve got a ways to go.”

The Galaxy will stay at home to host the Portland Timbers in a midweek match on Wednesday night, before traveling to San Jose for another installment of the California Clasico on Saturday.

The Union also have a midweek match. They now fly home to host the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, and then welcome the Montreal Impact on Saturday.


  1. Villareal, Lletget, and Jamieson as bench options and spot starters going forward? Sign me up. And if Arena can successfully phase in Stevie G? Danger, MLS, danger!

    • I’d throw Maganto into that group of young dangermen as well. He’s impressed me every time he’s been on the pitch.

    • I had the pleasure of seeing Jamieson score against the Mexico U20s in Carson. He’s a potential star, no doubt.

    • Arena is a bit of a pompous, grumpy jerk…but either he’s as good a judge of talent as Jurgen Klinsmann is, or he’s just masterful at coaching up what he’s got.

      On paper the Galaxy are modestly talented at best and had holes and injuries all over the field, but Arena did quite the job coaxing credible performances out of his bench options even while running with zero true DP’s for much of the year when Keane and Gonzalez were out injured. Now that they’re finally getting healthy, the Galaxy are starting to look like the Galaxy again. Once he works Gerrard into the roster…well.

      Arena is showing, once again, there’s probably a fair bit of separation between himself and the next-best American coach. I think he’d have done just fine in the Prem…and once JK is finally done, whenever that is, I do think the USMNT could do a lot worse than going back to Arena. If there was a reservation I always had with Arena it’s that he tends to do better with veteran players but he has shown an ability this year to develop young ones as well. Even when they were shorthanded, the Galaxy still retained a certain bit of swagger and they’re starting to get that incisive edge back on them again.

      And Zardes. Wow. What can you say about that score? Drops WAY back, stays with the play, makes the breakup, connects a monster ball 60+ yards down the field…and then hustles his butt all the way down the field and gets on the end of a cross, casually jogging past a physically outmatched defender before casually making what was NOT an easy finish despite the great ball Keane sent in. And Zardes doesn’t even seem all that jacked about scoring. For such a flamboyant-looking player, Zardes seems distinctly unimpressed by himself. He just nods, finds some teammates to celebrate with, and then gets on with it. You can see why Klinsmann likes him as much as Arena does…guy is just scratching the surface of his talent. I really do think he could be another Didier Drogba before it’s all said and done…Drogba was a bit of a later bloomer himself.

      • Arena has talked like he has been considering retirement, so it’s unlikely he will do anything after he quits the Galaxy, whenever that is. Another thing about Zardes is that he is a hard worker dedicated to his game. I called him a Dempsey with speed. Also, I think Zardes is a better passer than Dempsey was at this stage.

      • There isn’t much to dislike about Zardes (other than his hair). Good looking player who I think might be an undisputed USMNT starter by the next World Cup.

  2. Big things ahead for Zardes and the other Galaxy youth. The kids are growing up. Hopefully the next MLS designation of core young player opotamus will allow us to pay them enough to keep them from going to Europe. Zardes is going to get bought up by a European side sooner than later.

  3. With the Galaxy finally getting healthy and Gerrard set to join them soon, they look ready to make their usual late season push.. Lietget looks like a good pickup. He’s started one game, been a sub in two and already scored twice. Not a bad start.

    • And he scored in the US Open Cup on Wednesday, so he’s technically scored three times in four appearances for the Gs. Not a bad hit rate.


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