Joseph Paintsil eyes MVP run with LA Galaxy: "Makes me work harder"


LA Galaxy general manager Will Kuntz recently touted Joseph Paintsil, one of two Designated Players the club acquired this winter, as a Landon Donovan MLS MVP-caliber talent.

Kuntz may have been correct.

In arguably his best performance in a Galaxy shirt, the Ghanaian international scored the winning goal and provided a game-sealing assist in the late stages of Saturday’s 3-1 win at Vancouver Whitecaps FC – returning his side to the top of the Western Conference.

“It's something that every player would love to achieve,” the reported near-$9 million signing said of his MVP ambitions. “ … Whatever happens with MVP, goals and assists and everything, first it's the team, and the more the team succeeds, the more the player succeeds. Me being there and finding my name there is a plus for me and makes me happy and makes me work harder.”

Playing through the center for large portions of his team’s Matchday 9 road trip rather than his customary winger role, Paintsil continued to show why he’s the missing piece to LA’s final-third puzzle.

Whether it’s getting on the end of a Riqui Puig through ball or playing a pinpoint cross for an assist to a teammate – both of which Paintsil did in Vancouver – the 26-year-old is constantly making an impact. He now has 3g/3a in eight matches since arriving from Belgian Pro League side Genk.

“It’s not a position he’s played a ton of, but I thought his movement was smart. I thought his work rate was excellent,” head coach Greg Vanney said of Paintsil’s play through the middle. “Then at the end of the game, we switched it. We put him back on the outside and moved Riqui to the middle and got him flying from the outside, which is where the goal came from.”

Beyond Paintsil, Dejan Joveljic kept pace in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race with his sixth goal of the young season, opening the scoring on Gabriel Pec’s assist.

MLS veteran Diego Fagúndez also made history by becoming the 10th player in league history to join the 70-goal and 70-assist club, scoring the insurance goal on Paintsil’s set-up.

“It’s something that I’m very proud of. I’ve been trying to accomplish it since last year when I scored,” Fagúndez shared. “There [will be] many more hopefully. My next step will be 80/80. Hopefully, I can accomplish that here this year. If not, next year.”

A testament to both longevity and success in MLS, Fagúndez knows as well as anybody what it takes to win in this league. As LA continue their resurgence, now owning the most road wins in MLS (three), he believes they’re close to being a complete team.

“I think it’s the personnel that we have, the commitment that we do to each other, [and] the hard work that we’ve put in,” Fagúndez identified as the reasons for Galaxy’s early-season success.

" … We are all working hard for each other and I think that's what's making us a really good team. Our attack is unbelievable like always. Like I said, now we just have to work defensively all together and set pieces are the number one thing that we really need to work on. If we cover that, we'll be one of the best teams.”