Los Angeles Galaxy crush New York City FC, 5-1, in star-filled matchup

August 24, 2015

Carson, Calif. -- In one of the marquee matchups of the 2015 MLS season, the Los Angeles Galaxy soundly defeated New York City FC by a score of 5-1 in front of 27,000 fans at the StubHub Center on Sunday afternoon.

NYC came into the game sitting in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, while LA held second place in the West, but on this day conference standings were of minimal importance compared to the spectacle of seeing so many elite players on an MLS pitch.

The game was headlined by several international stars on both sides, as NYCFC's roster featured Andrea Pirlo and David Villa (an injured Frank Lampard disappointingly did not play), against the Galaxy's trio of Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, and Giovani dos Santos.

“It says that this league is serious," said Keane of all the star power in the game.  "It’s the league that people want to be in. We get phone calls all the time from international players that want to come here, that want to play. Years ago, there were certain leagues that people want to go and play. This is the league.”

In the beginning of the game, it was NYC who primarily had the ball in the final third and created chances.

In the 8th minute, a corner-kick led to a Villa shot that was deflected by the defense wide of goal. Again in the 14th minute, Villa had a strong shot on goal that goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was able to keep out of the net.

In the 18th minute, the Galaxy began to rally when Gyasi Zardes made a great move around the defenders and set up Keane for a close shot that was blocked.

As the first half continued, it became apparent which team was better, as the Galaxy turned up the heat on NYC. Keane got free for a shot on goal that somehow stayed out of the net and hit the crossbar. LA also had threatening attacks from Zardes, Dos Santos, Keane, and others throughout the rest of the first half.

"We got outplayed by a better team," said Villa.  "After the first 20 minutes they started to get into the game. They played better, they defended better and they attacked better and the score reflects that."

In the 36th minute, Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead with a Keane cross that Zardes headed into goal past former Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.

As the second half got underway, both teams seemed poised to get the next goal, with a Villa shot near goal for NYC, and a Sebastian Lletget chance for LA.

However, in the 54th minute it was the Galaxy that struck again when Dos Santos sent a ball to Keane who scored past the charging Saunders to make it 2-0.

"I know [Robbie] Keane from my time at Tottenham," said Dos Santos.  "He is a top class player and he is a good friend of mine. We feel very comfortable out there on the pitch."

Just minutes later, the game was essentially put away by LA when Keane sent a through ball to Dos Santos who found the net by chipping the ball over a charging and off-his-line Saunders for a 3-0 lead.

"The most important thing we said at halftime was to be patient, to keep moving the ball," said Keane. "I said that as soon as we start getting four or five passes together, we opened the team up and we caught them a lot of times with the counter-attack.”

Later, in the 70th minute, Gerrard's shot was deflected, leading to a Lleget score in front for a commanding 4-0 Galaxy advantage.

NYC earned a penalty kick in the final minutes on a Dan Gargan challenge in the box, and they finally were able to get on the scoresheet in the 80th minute with a Villa penalty kick.

Seconds later, the Galaxy made it 5-1 when Lleget held the ball up against the defenders and waited for an overlapping run by Robbie Rogers. Rogers jetted up the field and into the box before passing to Keane in front for the shot and score. The goal was Keane's 15th this season and marked the 1,000th goal in Galaxy franchise history.

With the win, the Galaxy improved to 13-7-7 on the season, and will next face the San Jose Earthquakes on the road in the California Clasico this Friday, August 28, at 8 p.m. PT.

"If anything, today, I think it tells about the growth of this league and the kind of support we are getting in the market is phenomenal," said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena of the game.  "I do remember I coached in the opening game of this league in 1996, and we’ve come light years. Today was maybe a bit of recognition of the growth of the league, and certainly we have a long way to go, but we are certainly pleased to have these types of games today and obviously more in the future."

By Brian Kowalski
Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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