Alessandrini provides "special" impact off bench as LA Galaxy flash depth

CHESTER, Pa. — LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid wanted to make one thing clear about Romain Alessandrini after Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union.

“Romain’s not a sub on this team,” Schmid said. “He’s a guy who’s a starter.”

But on Saturday, with the Galaxy trailing at halftime and needing a boost, Alessandrini played the role of a halftime substitute perfectly, providing a pair of assists as the Galaxy rallied from behind for their third straight victory.

“We decided to go with a very attacking way on the outside with [Chris] Pontius and Romain,” Schmid said of his decision to replace defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce with Alessandrini at halftime. “Romain did a great job not only offensively for us but he also helped us out defensively and he had some key moments. So I was very, very pleased with Romain — with his attitude, his professionalism coming off the bench.”

While terming Alessandrini a starter, the Galaxy head coach also acknowledged that finding a place in the starting lineup for all of his marquee attacking players could be a challenge with Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos back from the World Cup and, he said, Sebastian Lletget and Bradford Jamieson IV set to return from injury in the coming weeks.

But as Alessandrini showed Saturday, having difference-makers come off the bench can be a valuable thing.

“We’re getting closer to having a full team and obviously not everyone can start at that point,” Schmid said. “But Romain is a pro. And guys like him or whoever ends up being on the bench is extremely motivated when they come in, so there’s very little I need to say.”

For Pontius, who enjoyed a brace in New England last week and getting to play against his former club Saturday, having so many “big-time players” in the attack makes his job fun. And he credited Alessandrini for changing the course of the game after the Union “gave it to us pretty good” in the first half.

“You’re talking about a special player there,” Pontius said. “We asked him to play in a 3-5-2, so he has more defensive responsibilities than he’s used to. But when he gets on the ball offensively, you saw what he can do.”

Alessandrini and the Galaxy will hope to keep showing what they can do on Thursday, when they put their seven-game unbeaten streak on the line at crosstown rivals LAFC (10:30 pm ET | ESPN, TSN – Full TV and streaming info).

“We’ve come East two consecutive weekends and picked up six points, so that’s very important to us,” Schmid said. “For us, we want to continue to climb in the standings and we’re starting to do that and put ourselves in a position where we know we’re going to be in the playoffs. The LAFC game is important because we know they’re a big rival.”