LA Galaxy started their final run of matches in the 2023 regular MLS season not just with an obvious desire to play and perform after nearly a month since their last competitive match, but with reinforcements that cemented it, and the results showed in a 3-0 rout over Chicago Fire at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday night. In spite of their 13th straight defeat of Chicago, the Galaxy remain in 13th place in the Western Conference standings, still four spots from qualifying for the playoffs. However, their future looks brighter — the home side recorded their largest win, extended their impressive turnaround dating back to June 21st to four home match victories, recorded their fifth clean sheet of the season, and Maya Yoshida, Edwin Cerrillo, Billy Sharp and Michael Barrios all made their debuts. They remain formidable as potential playoffs competitors with 11 matches remaining and just seven points from Austin who are currently occupying the last slot. “I think Greg [Vanney] touched on it that the end of last season when we started to pick up some clean sheets and gain some momentum, and if we’re going to gain that momentum and push us into the playoff then clean sheets are going to be key to that,” Jonathan Bond reiterated after delivering his third shutout of the season.
Chicago played with just 10 men from the 27th minute when Gastón Giménez received his second yellow card for a bad tackle on LA’s Douglas Costa. The resulting unsuccessful free kick was picked up Tyler Boyd who accurately aimed it into the net, giving the home team a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute. It was Boyd’s sixth goal across all competitions for the Galaxy. They then doubled their lead in the 72nd minute after a beautiful series of passes between DPs Diego Costa and Riqui Puig gracefully carried the ball from the midfield through to the penalty area till Puig easily shot past three Fire defenders and goalkeeper, also notching his sixth goal in all competitions like Boyd.
Lastly, Billy Sharp, making his MLS debut, scored the final goal of the in the 90th minute from the penalty spot putting a bow on the night for the home team who improved to an impressive 7W-1D-3L record when scoring first in league play.
“It’s nice when you look down your bench and you know you have guys that can either lock down a game or can help you control the game and actually help you see a game out and really win it and take it forward and be aggressive,” Galaxy’s head coach Greg Vanney said afterwards, beaming with relief. After their worst season start, things have begun to turn around at the right time for the 5-time MLS Cup winners. “Even the new guys who have come in really have integrated into the group, so that’s been nice. It’s a group that wants to work together and compete together. They got that tonight, and we’ll build momentum off of that.” LA Galaxy travel to mid-table San Jose Earthquakes for their next match on Wednesday, August 30th.