LA Galaxy's new "danger": Joseph Paintsil shines in Cali Clásico 


Long gone are the days of trying to force crosses into the box for Zlatan Ibrahimović or hoping Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez would be in the right spot to pounce on an opportunity.

This is now a different LA Galaxy squad trying to spark a resurgence and bring the winningest club in MLS history back up to those high standards after missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in five of the last seven seasons.

And just two games into the young 2024 campaign, the future looks promising.

Galaxy golazo

Newly-signed Designated Player Joseph Paintsil has been key to a revamped attack that’s scored four goals through two games.

The 26-year-old winger, who arrived from Belgian side Genk for a reported $9 million transfer fee, made his mark in Saturday’s Cali Clásico by scoring his first MLS goal and tacking on an assist in their 3-1 win at the San Jose Earthquakes.

“I’m really happy that I scored my first goal, especially in those colors – it really means a lot to me,” said Paintsil, who noted the Galaxy’s green, yellow and red secondary kit reminds him of his native Ghana’s flag.

“My sister and my mom told me that I was going to score, so I should just keep the faith,” he added. “The moment that it happened I thought about them, so I just want to say a very big thank you.”

New connections

The 18th-minute golazo put Paintsil’s skillset on full display as he created some separation on the wing, fed a pass to Mark Delgado and turned on the jets to get in a dangerous area before depositing a clinical left-footed finish.

In Paintsil’s debut, a 1-1 draw vs. Inter Miami CF last weekend, it was already evident that he was going to cause problems for opposing defenses. His hustle, speed and ability to take players 1-on-1 are everything head coach Greg Vanney was looking for in his 4-3-3 formation, though didn’t necessarily get from someone like ex-DP winger Douglas Costa.

“He gives us a whole new threat or danger that we haven’t seen or had,” admitted Vanney.

And that’s after Paintsil’s been around the team for only two weeks. Pairing him alongside No. 10 Riqui Puig and fellow newcomer Gabriel Pec – the Killer Ps – gives the Galaxy a new dimension in the final third.

Meanwhile, striker Dejan Joveljic looks rejuvenated and quietly leads LA with a goal in each game. They are piecing it together fairly quickly for a group that hasn’t known each other long.

“Me playing alongside Riqui Puig is a great connection,” Paintsil said. “As you can see, it’s like we’ve played [together] almost like a season before.”

Team belief

The Galaxy dominated long stretches of their home opener against Miami, and if it weren't for a late moment of brilliance from Lionel Messi, they’d be atop the Western Conference with six points through Matchday 3.

That’s exactly why Vanney’s encouraged by the upside his squad possesses when everyone does get acclimated. After a turbulent 2023 on and off the field, he’s envisioning Galaxy glory days he knows rather well as a former player.

“I look forward because I see what this team is capable of even on a night like tonight, and knowing the guys are still coming together and getting healthy and all that kind of stuff, I really am excited about the group we have,” Vanney said.

It seems like Paintsil has a clear vision, too.

“The players are really hungry for success,” Paintsil said. “We did everything together and if we keep playing like this, we are really going to kill a lot of clubs, a lot of clubs. Trust me.”