In Riqui Puig's debut with Galaxy, they escape with a tie against Sounders

·3 min read
Galaxy midfielder Riqui Puig, left, moves the ball past Sounders midfielder Jimmy Medranda on Aug. 19, 2022.
New Galaxy midfielder Riqui Puig, left, moves the ball past Seattle Sounders midfielder Jimmy Medranda on Friday night at Dignity Health Sports Park. The teams played to a 3-3 tie. (Raul Romero Jr. / Associated Press)

Galaxy coach Greg Vanney is typically about as modest as a one-piece swimsuit. So when he gushed about new signing Riqui Puig, the praise stood out.

“This is arguably one of the most significant signings in the history of the league,” Vanney said of the former Barcelona midfielder, who joined the team last week. “To have a young player of this quality choose the Galaxy to continue to grow his career, that is immensely humbling.”

Whether it also proves to be the spark Vanney’s team needs to get to the playoffs remains to be seen and the early results were mixed, with the Galaxy giving up a two-goal lead in an eight-minute span of the second half, then rallying on a penalty kick in stoppage time to escape with a 3-3 draw against the Seattle Sounders at Dignity Health Sports Park on Friday night.

The Galaxy goals came from Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Víctor Vázquez in the first half, and from second-half substitute Dejan Joveljic, whose score from the spot in the 92nd minute came after Seattle’s Xavier Arreaga was called for a hand ball.

The Galaxy's Dejan Joveljic, left, scores on a penalty kick against Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei on Aug. 19, 2022.
Dejan Joveljic, left, scores the tying goal for the Galaxy on a 91st-minute penalty kick against Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei. (Raul Romero Jr. / Associated Press)

Kelyn Rowe, Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris scored for Seattle.

By rallying for the tie, the Galaxy (10-11-4) moved into sixth place in the Western Conference, one spot above the playoff line. But it wasn’t pretty, with the team giving up a halftime lead for the first time in seven games this season.

Puig, 23, once one of Barcelona’s brightest young stars, arrived in L.A. on a 3½-year contract and for a while it looked as if his MLS debut would be a cause for celebration, with the Galaxy jumping to a 2-0 lead before he even took off his warmups. But they had given it back by the time Puig entered in the 62nd minute, with Rowe sending a right-footed shot from the center of the box into the roof of the net in the 53rd minute and Ruidíaz tying the score on a header eight minutes later.

The Galaxy's Javier Hernández, left, celebrates his first-half goal against the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 19, 2022.
The Galaxy's Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, left, celebrates his first-half goal against Seattle. (Raul Romero Jr. / Associated Press)

Morris then gave Seattle its first lead in three games, tapping home a rebound of a sprawling Jonathan Bond save on Yeimar Gómez’s header in the 73rd minute. The score stayed that way until a video review in the closing minutes revealed Arreaga’s hand ball.

For Seattle (10-13-3), the draw extended its winless streak to three games, although the point was enough to push the Sounders above the playoff line, ahead of Vancouver, Portland and Nashville on the total wins tiebreaker. Seattle hasn’t missed the postseason since entering MLS in 2009.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.