Galaxy roll as Wilhelmsson stars in debut

ChristianWilhelmsson (Getty)

By KAYLA KNAPP

CARSON, Calif.–The newest signing for the LA Galaxy didn’t take long to pay off.

Christian Wilhelmsson scored in his debut on Friday night as the Galaxy got a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids and moved into a tie for third place in the Western Conference with Real Salt Lake, just one point behind the second-place Seattle Sounders.

“We went into the game hoping we would get 60 minutes out of him, we managed that,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of Wilhelmsson after the game. “He’s going to be a good addition to the team. He showed his experience on the field, excellent first touch, understands how to play on both sides of the ball, so I think he’s going be a player that’s certainly going to help us in this stretch.”

Wilhelmsson was impressive in his debut even before scoring in the 58thminute. He showed off his sharp footwork on the ball, and vision with runs and passes down the right flank and when he pinched in to the center of the field.

 “It was his first game so we’ve got to iron out some kinks with all of us, we have to figure out how he wants to play but he contributed,” Landon Donovan said of Wilhelmsson’s debut performance. And the Swede agreed.

“There was some misunderstandings sometimes but I’m it’s been two weeks and we’re getting to know each other more and more every day,” Wilhelmsson said after the match. “It will be better, absolutely.”

Robbie Keane opened the scoring in the 15th minute, with Marcelo Sarvas–who also put in a fantastic performance–and Landon Donovan assisting. While Colorado looked good for stretches, especially near the end of the first half, the Galaxy put in a convincing and dominant performance.

The Galaxy put the pressure on early against the Rapids, with a few good opportunities on net in the opening minutes.

Their continued attack led to Keane’s goal in the 15th minute, when Sarvas played the ball to Landon Donovan, who slotted a through pass to a streaking Keane. The Irishman then finished it calmly past Colorado keeper Matt Pickens, giving LA a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute. Both Donovan and Sarvas were given an assist on the goal—the first in MLS for Sarvas. But he wasn’t done yet.

“We had a few good chances early,” Landon Donovan said post-game. “It was really important to score a goal early against a team that really came here with no intention of winning the game.”

A few minutes before halftime, Omar Cummings entered the game for the injured Tony Cascio, who had been playing well for Colorado. Cummings did well, but the Rapids seemed to lose a bit of their spark after Cascio left the match.

“I don’t think we had a good start to the game,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The first 15 minutes it was a lack of intensity, and that set a tone for the rest of the first half. When you’re chasing the game, that’s difficult.”

At halftime, it was 1-0 in favor of the Galaxy, but Colorado would have to string together better possession if they wanted to find the equalizer.

The Galaxy continued their domination in the second half, and again their pressure paid off in the 58th minute, when Wilhelmsson scored his first Galaxy goal.

The Swede collected a pass from Sarvas and shook his defender in the box to make space for himself. After opening up a couple of feet in front of him, the Galaxy’s newest signing hit the ball low and hard at Pickens, who couldn’t handle it and the ball trickled into the goal. Wilhelmsson gave the Galaxy a 2-0 lead with a little more than 30 minutes remaining, and Sarvas picked up his second assist of the match.

Wilhelmsson was subbed off within minutes of scoring to loud cheers from the crowd at the Home Depot Center.

“It was great feeling, big relief, of course scoring in the first game is amazing, I’m just glad we could get the three points,” Wilhelmsson said after the win. “A goal is a goal, but I have to thank the keeper, he helped me a little bit.”

With about ten minutes remaining, the Rapids found a bit of rhythm and started stringing passes together and attacking in the Galaxy final third. Sarvas would again come up big for the Galaxy, when Conor Casey beat Josh Saunders, and ripped a shot from inside the box at the open net. The Brazilian threw his body in front of the strike that was surely bound for goal, and kept the clean sheet for Los Angeles.

“Tonight we got saved by Marcelo,” Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez said. “I made that mistake but that shows our character of players getting back and getting into the right position and saving the goal. I’m happy he made that save.”

At the final whistle, despite a few late-game chances from the Rapids, the Galaxy managed to keep them off the scoreboard, and post a 2-0 victory as they continue to climb the Western Conference table.

“We’re greedy,” Donovan said of the Galaxy’s hot form. “We want more and if we’re going to pass Seattle, pass Salt Lake and get near San Jose we’re going to need a little bit of help, but we also play those three teams, all of them, so we want to keep pushing and we’ll see where the chips lie at the end but we’re going to keep going and keep putting pressure on teams.”

Los Angeles will have to turn their sights to the CONCACAF Champions League as they travel to Puerto Rico to face the Islanders on Wednesday.

Colorado will try to bounce back next Sunday when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps.

This entry was posted in MLS- Colorado Rapids, MLS- LA Galaxy. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Galaxy roll as Wilhelmsson stars in debut

  1. The Dude says:

    He got no love from Balboa, though, who trashed him all night long. I thought, for a first competitive game, he was fantastic. He played his role well and scored a nice goal. Fit in instantly in the attack. Good pick up by the Galaxy.

  2. LA Dave says:

    We want NY and Monterrey

  3. Chavez Jr says:

    He is a left-sided player. When Beckham returns this team will be world class. Marcelo was another fine pickup.

  4. Gnarls says:

    Agreed. That was a solid 60 minutes. He admitted it was a soft goal, but no one can question his decision-making and skill. Great game for the Gs and great start for Wilhelmsson.

  5. Gnarls says:

    When Robbie Keane gets good service in the box, he’s the most prolific striker in MLS. I love this team!

  6. El paso, tx- soccer love says:

    This is the new era in mls when teams like galaxy have 3 classy dps that have experienced n worth the money. Red bulls is the next team in line to be the new galaxy then the cosmos who will join in 2015. Either galaxy or red bull win it this year. Seattle chicago vancouver portland dc new england chicago n and the rest need to learn from galaxy and red bull

  7. David JS says:

    I think Seattle and Chicago, especially Seattle, are already on their way…

  8. Fredo says:

    Chicago is loaning players left and right. Is that a good thing?

  9. Gnarls says:

    Or, New York continues its legacy of futility and wins nothing this year.

  10. FSegaud says:

    Wow…Balboa…such a useless commentator…proven several Olympics ago.

  11. CVI says:

    As a Colorado fan, I totally agree. The movement LA has up front is scary good. And it rediculous that Buddle is a bench player for them. I think only RBNY has anything close to that quality up front.

  12. CVI says:

    I think you mean Seattle…

  13. marden08 says:

    Landon Donovan was out with an injury for the USA game against Jamaica on tuesday. He miraclulously recovered to play 78 minutes last night. this timothy Chandler stuff is catching.

  14. jeff says:

    well if you insist, I guess the galaxy’ll take another title :)

  15. Good Jeremy says:

    I’m not really sure what there is to be learned from NY.

  16. Andy LA says:

    Yeah I was thinking the same thing.

  17. Andrew says:

    Um, this was Donovan’s first appearance for anyone in a month. No “miraculous” recovery, seeing as he’s been listed as “questionable” since the league’s Aug. 21 injury update.

  18. shake says:

    He was most definitely injured for the first match in Jamaica. And if you miss that match, no point in playing in the second one when you haven’t trained with the team at all and are still injured slightly or at least not fit.

    After a month off he still isn’t fit enough to play more than 60 minutes in MLS, so he certainly wasn’t ready for a US match.

  19. bottlcaps says:

    Hamstring injuries are the worst, as they can be re-injured very easily. And you could tell that Donovan had not been in training, but rather in rehabing, his touches against Colorado were way off and his passing was not up to the level we like to see. As a matter of fact, Donovan was nursing that same hamstring when he re-injured it against Jamaica in the first game.

    I think, though, that he will recover well, and just in time for the stretch run for the Galaxy and for the Fighting Waldos.

    Sarvas was easily the Man of the Match, taking nothing away from Wilhelmsson, with two assists and a stunning sliding save of a wide open Galaxy net, matched with a Yellow card, Sarvas was everywhere.

    This team is jelling very well and starting ro fire on all cylinders, Buddle is back and starting to get up to speed again, Keane is a very reliable goalscorer and Beckham should be back the next game, if injuries can be controlled, the Galaxy will go deep into the playoffs. I don’t think they will catch San Jose, but second place in the West is doable.Another MLS Cup is within reach.

  20. drewcore says:

    Exactly, Theres a lot of bad commentator pairs for MLS teams, but the Rapids might just have the worst. I honestly don’t know what game these guys are watching half the time, and they dwell on the most insignificant points of a game and talk ad nausea about them.

  21. whoop-whoop says:

    Fun game to watch, LA had some real quality exchanges. They really do have a nice mix of talented vets, as well as a very strong youth movement. If MLS wants true credibility and to make a consistent mark in Champions League, they need many teams with the sort of depth Galaxy is beginning to have. NYRB seems to be there, Sounders sure seem to be pushing it w/ their moves this year. If this trend continues, I don’t think we are too far away from seeing CONCACAF CL become a very competitive, fun to watch tournament!

  22. beachbum says:

    Marcelo played his best game yet in the uni, with Beckham out he stepped up, with a growing confidence every game, really playing great and making positive impact as 2 way player

  23. asimismo says:

    Seriously, El paso, what could Seattle possibly learn from NY? How to build a deep roster? How to win silverware? How to fill a stadium? How to sell jerseys? How to successfully compete in the CCL? I’m struggling to come up with anything…