CARSON, Calif. — During media availability leading up to a matchup against the Philadelphia Union, LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said he wasn’t sure how he’d react if his team managed to defeat the defending MLS Cup Champions and runners-up in back-to-back games.
Saturday saw the Galaxy do just that after defeating the Union 3-1 Saturday, coming off an emotional, 2-1 victory over rivals and defending MLS Cup Champions LAFC at the Rose Bowl just four days prior.
The Galaxy returned to Dignity Health Sports Park and managed to keep the momentum going and score multiple goals, something that almost seemed unattainable months ago.
“There’s a rhythm to our game now that I felt like didn’t exist in some of the stretches before and I felt like that was partly because we were just battling for a win.” Vanney said following the victory “There’s a lot of confidence, there’s a lot of joy. I mean, dare I say it’s a 180 a little bit from where we were?”
While Vanney wouldn’t put it into words, the Galaxy has definitely been playing with a seemingly newfound confidence, particularly in the team’s attack.
“All three of them that can play the game at a high speed. Riqui and Douglas (Costa)’s ability to get away from the first defender and open up new scenarios their combination play. Tyler (Boyd)’s running helps us out because he stretches the game when he runs without the ball,” Vanney said.
Boyd opened up the scoring against Philadelphia after taking the ball coast-to coast to finish with his second goal in as many games this week to make the score 1-0 after 15 minutes.
Philadelphia would even the score at 1-1 just before the half, after Mikael Uhre managed to finish after a bad deflection in the box off of Galaxy defender Chris Mavinga which landed right at Uhre’s feet.
The Galaxy would add one more to their goal tally in the first half after a set-piece, the ball was deflected off the back of Union defender Olivier Mbaizo and into the back of the net to give LA a 2-1 lead.
In the second half the Galaxy would control much of the possession and would have great build-ups, but couldn’t quite get the third goal to fall.
Enter Riqui Puig.
Puig received the ball from Dejan Joveljic outside the box and sent the ball screaming into the upper right corner, far beyond the reach of Philadelphia goalkeeper Joe Bendik to make the score 3-1 in the 76th, also his second goal in as many games.
Puig said afterwards he felt like he was targeted by Philadelphia’s defense in an effort to slow him down.
“It’s respectable but the truth is since minute one Philadelphia went hard against me,” Puig said in Spanish after the win. “The good thing is that referee gave a yellow card in the first play.”
Puig’s play received high praise from his captain Gastón Brugman.
“We hope he has no ceiling,” Brugman said in Spanish about Puig. “He brings the team a lot of peace and that’s fundamental.”
Next, the Galaxy will head north of the border to face the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.