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[av_heading heading=’Impressive LA Galaxy win over Real Salt Lake’ tag=’h1′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#ffffff’][/av_heading]

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Author: Iain Macintosh

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For the uninitiated, there is much that separates Major League Soccer from other notable leagues around the world. There is the single entity business structure, the draft system, the designated star player policies. But most of all, in these opening weeks, there is the sense that no team is considerably better than any other. At least, that was the case until this weekend when LA Galaxy faced the undefeated Real Salt Lake and pulled their pants down in front of everyone.

It has not been an auspicious start to the season for coach Bruce Arena and his star-studded west coast side. An early defeat to Colorado Rapids was a body blow and two draws against Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers appeared to suggest that Arena was struggling to settle the new faces in his squad and to cope with the loss of Robbie Keane to injury. But while a thumping 4-1 win over Houston Dynamos was evidence of improvement, this emphatic result is proof that the tide has turned.

As a team, they were noticeably quicker and more decisive, eager to test Salt Lake’s high line with balls over the top, playing to their own strengths.

There were outstanding performances across the park, but more than that, there was a display of great character. Steven Gerrard spurned an early chance to open the scoring when he missed a fifth minute penalty and when Juan Martinez headed home Luke Mulholland’s cross, product of an inexplicable mix-up in the Galaxy defence, it looked like another difficult day for Arena. Instead, it only intensified his team’s focus.

Gyasi Zardes has been an erratic presence for the Galaxy this season, occasionally dazzling, occasionally giving the impression that he’s wearing someone else’s boots. The equaliser was a dazzler. Baggio Husidic set him free with a perfectly weighted ball, he dragged three defenders out to the left, cut back in and whipped the ball into the corner from 20 yards. And that was just the start.

Two of the best performers on the pitch combined in the 26th minute to put the Galaxy ahead. Ashley Cole, really finding his feet in this team now, sent a perfect pass to Emmanuel Boateng, the diminutive 22 year old Ghanaian winger. His cross was perfect, landing plum on Mike Magee’s instep.
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Boateng scored the third himself. He stabbed the ball to Giovani dos Santos, who tried to quickly put Zardes through. Zardes utterly failed to control the ball, but happily his heavy touch found Boateng, who hadnt stopped running. Galaxy had a third. And they werent done there.


Boateng, terrorising the Salt Lake defence now, meep-meeped into the box and seemed to be hauled down by Tony Beltran. But before the referee could make his mind up, the ball popped out to Dos Santos. He didnt even look up. He just instinctively hit a chip shot on the turn and set the crowd into delirium. And it wasnt even half time.
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Image from Wyscout  Match Report

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There was, for perhaps the first time this season, a concerted swagger about the Galaxy, a recognition that with their accumulated talents, they should be offering more, and a willingness to do just that.

There was a fluidity to their movement, particularly through Magee and Zardes who worked tirelessly throughout. Even Gerrard began to flex his muscles, pinging the ball across the pitch with pleasure.

He would, after Real Salt Lake scored a second from the penalty spot, add a fifth at the end, a goal from the Liverpool scrapbook, made with a deft touch and intelligent movement, finished with complete confidence.

Real Salt Lake were unbeaten before they came to LA. No longer. Galaxy move to third in the Western Conference. If they keep playing like this, it won’t be long before they’re top.
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Iain Macintosh
Is a football writer for ESPNFC and the editor of  The Set Pieces

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