The Los Angeles Galaxy beat Chivas 2-0 in the first-ever soccer match held at SoFi Stadium on Wednesday night in the inaugural match of the Leagues Cup Showcase.
L.A. Galaxy beat Chivas 2-0 in Leagues Cup Showcase
The Galaxy won behind goals on either side of the half from Dejan Joveljić and Jonathan Pérez, who was the talk of the match after scoring a beautiful long-range goal.
“Jonny [Pérez] obviously steals the show with a great goal. The kid is a special player. We just keep bringing him along, and he’s going to be another great player for us,” Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney said of the México youth international.
But as Josh Guesman from Corner of the Galaxy pointed out, many years from now, Dejan Joveljic will be the answer to the trivia question, “who scored the first goal at SoFi Stadium?”
TRIVIA ANSWER: Dejan Joveljic
— Corner Of The Galaxy (@GalaxyPodcast) August 4, 2022
The “future” strikes first
The striker recovered from his recent penalty miss against Dallas to dispatch a fine finish on 28 minutes to give L.A. the lead 1-0.
This time, good instinct let him latch onto a driven Efraín Álvarez corner kick that he volleyed with his left foot past Club Deportivo Guadalajara goalkeeper Raul Rangel and into the ceiling of the net on 28 minutes. The Serbian continues to score, finding the net in 10 of his last 12 matches.
It’s only right that an LA team scores the inaugural goal at the beautiful @SoFiStadium
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 4, 2022
Thanks to Joveljić, the Galaxy took a 1-0 lead into halftime for a change, and looked even better in the second half.
The other “future”
Vanney brought on wholesale subs and introduced a lineup heavy on Galaxy 2 players.
And it was quite a magnificent spark, a signal that perhaps the future has already arrived in Los Angeles.
The young Galaxy players looked dangerous throughout, and could and should’ve gotten more goals.
Preston Judd had a wonderful solo effort go just wide of the post, and his performance will encourage Vanney that he has a striker for the future, or even present.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 4, 2022
But it was 19-year-old Pérez who took the plaudits.
Pérez takes the plaudits
A total of 71,189 people were on hand to witness his first Galaxy goal, with the sell-out crowd on Wednesday night being larger than February’s Super Bowl (70,048).
And what a way to announce yourself.
After recovering the ball in midfield, a driving Samuel Grandsir cut into the middle of the pitch and laid the ball off to Pérez in space just above the 18-yard-box. Pérez took a touch and fired his left-footed strike just inside Rangel’s right post for the 2-0 score line and eventual victory.
The Pride of Pico Rivera & the next generation of @miseleccionmxEN
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 4, 2022
“He’s talented. Like I said, he can play right side, he can play left side. He can finish both directions. He can dribble both directions. But I thought he also showed some composure tonight and confidence,” Vanney explained of the young winger.
Pérez talked about the high of scoring in front of the team his family supported as a child, and how he hopes his goal signals to Vanney that he is ready for more playing time.
“Well, this game today was for [them] to see what I can do, and against a big team, right? And hopefully, I’ll keep getting opportunities in the future,” Pérez told Last Word on Galaxy after the game.
It was a good night overall for the Galaxy. They were able to secure a much-needed win, despite the match not counting toward the league. More importantly, they were able to give younger players like Pérez, Jalen Neal, and Judd some very well-earned minutes for their recent G2 form and welcomed back Adam Saldaña. The midfielder registered 65 minutes in his first game back since fracturing his ankle in the off-season.
Galaxy win, but so do the leagues
The real winners here, are MLS, LIGA MX, and the organizers of the Leagues Cup tournament that kicks off between the two leagues next year, however. The doubleheader of Chivas vs. Galaxy and Club America vs. LAFC was largely without incident.
In what was seen as a tune-up for the 2026 World Cup, Los Angeles and SoFi Stadium glittered and earned rave reviews. The Leagues Cup itself got a huge boost, after being criticized by some for being programmed to be played in the middle of the MLS season.
“I do think the league, this league starting up next year, is good timing. I think everybody looks forward to that opportunity. As I said, if there’s an opportunity at the end of it that you’re playing for, it’s always a positive thing that the players and clubs to shoot for,” Vanney said of the new tournament.
Galaxy Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández agreed with his coach.
The former Chivas player was effusive on the tournament’s benefits. He also cast aside talks about this game being a distraction in league play, where the Galaxy sits in ninth place. For him, there were only positives to take away.
“It was a very good opportunity, to take it like that. You’re playing in front of, I don’t know, 65,000 fans, just to put a number with it, and then the first soccer game in this stadium and what it means,” Chicharito said excitedly.
“You can get a lot of confidence. And a lot of players have time to play, to have chances, to develop. I think, to measure themselves with a very important league and team like Chivas. So, for us, it’s very positive. It’s very positive.”
Next for the Galaxy
Of course, the good feeling and the “positive” vibes will only last as long as the Galaxy is winning.
They’ll have an opportunity to get another victory, this time in league play, when they travel to face Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Photo: Los Angeles Galaxy.