Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has made his MLS debut. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for his first MLS goal.
Chicharito and the Los Angeles Galaxy tied the Houston Dynamo 1-1 on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium, with Cristian Pavón’s impressive early strike for the Galaxy being cancelled out by Mauro Manotas’ equalizer in the second half.
Both teams were playing their first competitive match of the season, and both were missing significant pieces. Houston attackers Alberth Elis and Darwin Quintero were out with thigh injuries, while Jonathan dos Santos missed the game with a groin injury for the Galaxy.
As a result, the Galaxy were a little less assertive than they might have been otherwise, and the Dynamo found themselves in possession more than they might’ve preferred, especially with new coach Tab Ramos’ pledges to play a more reactive, pressure-based game.
After a blockbuster move to the Galaxy in January, Chicharito was mostly anonymous in the first half, recording just one shot on 11 touches. The Mexican star became more of a focal point in the second half, and in the 67th minute, he poked a ball free to Joe Corona alone in the center of the box, but Corona’s first touch was heavy and he skied the shot.
Later, Chicharito caught Houston’s Maynor Figueroa by surprise with a wider run out left, then waited until the ball was near the touchline to cut back and cross to Sebastian Lletget. The Galaxy midfielder slipped on his shot, but still forced a save by Dynamo goalkeeper Marko Marić.
Los Angeles took the lead in the 13th minute on Pavón’s rocket, which was also just the second assist of keeper David Bingham’s career:
The front three of star Boca Juniors loanee Pavón, Chicharito and Aleksandar Katai, along with attacking midfield contingent, are expected to carry the Galaxy as far as they go this season. There was some expected disconnect and rust on Saturday, though the Galaxy looked more apt to find a winner late.
They needed one after the 54th minute, when Zarek Valentin split the defense with a through-ball and Manotas finished into a tight window of space:
The back four is clearly the weak link of the Galaxy, and it showed on the goal as Giancarlo González lost track of Manotas and Nick DePuy was too late to close him down.
As such, Chicharito and Co. will have to protect back line with goals and threats going forward.
There’s great potential to do that. Saturday was the first step in the process.
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