Debut goal rounds off positive outing for LA's Wilhelmsson
CARSON, Calif. – Christian Wilhelmsson knows his first real outing with the LA Galaxy was far from perfect, but perfection couldn't have been much better than this.
The Swedish winger made the most of his Major League Soccer debut Friday night, and he wrapped up an hour-long stint with the critical second goal in the Galaxy's 2-0 victory over Colorado at the Home Depot Center.
It wasn't the best goal, by any stretch of the imagination, but Wilhelmsson did fine work sprinting into space for Marcelo Sarvas' long pass and pirouetting to avoid two Rapids defenders and set up his shot. The rest was good fortune.
“Of course, I didn't think so much I would score today,” said Wilhelmsson, who signed last week with LA and made two MLS Reserve League appearances before the big debut. “It was a pleasure, and I'm just happy we got the three points and I got the goal. Of course, it's great.”
The Swedish national-teamer started on the right flank and lasted an hour, good minutes as he continues his integration with the team.
“It was his first game, so we've got to iron out some kinks with all of us,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. “We have to figure out how he wants to play, but he contributed. Not the most beautiful goal, but it counts, and I thought he played a real solid 60 minutes.”
Said Sean Franklin, who ran the right flank with Wilhelmsson: “As we train more and play more games, we should link up better at times. We talked at halftime about getting each other some space to open up defenders, and I think over time it's going to be a good thing having him on the wing near us.”
Wilhelmsson said that “from time to time [it was] all right, and there was some misunderstanding sometimes. It's been two weeks, and we're getting to know each other more and more every day. So it will be better. Absolutely.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he was very pleased with the Swede.
“I think he's going to be a good addition to the team,” Arena said. “He showed his experience on the field, excellent first touch, understands how to play on both sides of the ball. I think he's a player that's certainly going to help us in this stretch run...
“I thought he played well. We went into the game hoping we'd get 60 minutes out of him. We managed that. Obviously, the goal was an important goal. Probably not the best goal of his career, but we're going to take it.”
The shot, from 20 yards, wasn't wonderful – it didn't have much pace – and Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens should have done more with it, but the ball glanced off his outstretched hands and rolled gently into the net.
“It was a great feeling, big relief, and of course [scoring one's] first goal is amazing,” Wilhelmsson said. “I have to thank the 'keeper. He helped me a little bit there.”