Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York City Football Club met for the first time over the weekend in what was to be the most star-studded affair in MLS history
Fans were eager to see names like Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard.
It was the hottest ticket in Hollywood. In order to get into the sold out Stubhub center, fans were paying four to five-times face ticket value on the streets.
“It says that this league is serious,” Robbie Keane later commented “This league is the league that people want to be in — there’s no question about that. I get phone calls all the time from international players that want to come here and want to play, play in this league. Years ago, there were certain leagues where people wanted to go and play, and it was exciting for them. This is the league now.”
Both teams came in needing wins for different reasons.
NYCFC came in desperate to stay in the play-off hunt. They came into the match one place out of a play-off spot in a tie with Montreal Impact 9 games left to play.
LA Galaxy came into the match also desperate, desperate to stay on top of the Supporter Shield race, maintain their MLS best record and keep their momentum as the hottest team in the league.
LA Galaxy and NYCFC have two of the highest payrolls in the league history, each spending roughly 19.5 million and $18 million respectively. The only team that spends more is the Toronto FC at $21.5 million.
In addition, LA spends more on defensive players than any other team in the league ($2.5 million) nearly 75% more than NYCFC spends on defensive players.
The match started out evenly enough, but about half way though the second half you could feel the tides turn. The LA Galaxy started to shut down NYCFC’s passing lanes and exploited NYCFC’s pores defence.
The first of what would be may goals came in the 36th minute, not from a high paid international, but from the homegrown, US National Team forward Gyasi Zardes, assisted by Robbie Keane.
In the second half the floodgates opened for the Galaxy. LA’s two strikers Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos each had goals assisted by each other in the 54th and 67th minute.
LA then went 4-1 up, when Sebastian Lleget was in the right place at the right time in 70th minute and redirected an off-target attempt by Steven Gerrard.
Then down four-nil, NYCFC’s Patrick Mullins drew a foul in the 79th. David Villa was able to convert the penalty kick, which was his 15th goal of the season and New York was finally on the board.
But before you could blink an eye, Robbie Keane one-up’d Villa scoring his second goal of the game and matching Villa with 15th goals for the season.
Keane’s goal that came in the 81st minute, made LA the first team in major league history to score 1,000 goals.
NYCFC’s back-line was horrible in the second half and it seemed as if LA could score at will.
The score could have easily been 6-1 if Steven Gerrard hadn’t passed up an open goal in the 90th minute.
Gerrard opted to force a pass to Keane instead of taking the shot himself -one can only assume, Gerrard passed up the shot in order to get his good buddy Keane a hat-trick.
High Profile acquisitions
Since bringing in Gerrard and Dos Santos the LA Galaxy have won eight of their last ten games, in addition to winning both their Champion’s League games.
NYCFC’s Pirlo and Villa seem to be working out, but there is a missing piece- Frank Lampard, the highest paid player on the team, has only started one game this year.
When the smoked cleared the best player on the field was the fifth year, MLS veteran and Galaxy Captain Robbie Keane. Last years MLS MVP finishing the game with two goals and an assist.
Is it just a matter of time before Major League Soccer is one of the top leagues in the world?