The LA Galaxy, looking revitalized in interim head coach Dominic Kinnear's first match at the helm, kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The Galaxy got off to a quick start, looking the better side in the opening stanza of the match and scoring the opening goal. They executed an 18th-minute set piece to perfection, with Sebastian Lletget sending a ball to the goalmouth and Giancarlo Gonzalez redirecting it with a header. Thanks to heads-up defensive plays by Justen Glad, the Galaxy weren't able to capitalize further than the one goal, but still looked in control heading into halftime.
Corey Baird nearly had an equalizer five minutes after play resumed, chipping Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham, but Gonzalez made a heroic run back and, with a leaping kick, cleared the ball off the line. RSL stepped up its offense, bringing numbers up, but that left the visitors more susceptible to a counter. In the 65th minute, Cristian Pavon was essentially a one-man counter, running through the RSL defense on a long solo run before finishing to make it 2-0.
- 18' – LA – Giancarlo Gonzalez | WATCH
- 65' – LA – Cristian Pavon | WATCH
- 78' – RSL – Douglas Martinez | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: The Dominic Kinnear era (or rather, a Dominic Kinnear era for the veteran MLS coach) started out well. The Galaxy looked motivated from the outset — a contrast from some recent matches, namely the Oct. 14 debacle against the Quakes. For RSL, a completely bizarre season comes to an end with a thud. There's one more rivalry game against SKC to be played, but RSL won't be experiencing the post-season magic they've enjoyed of late.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It wasn't a goal, but rather, Gonzalez's acrobatic effort to keep Baird's potential equalizer from crossing the goalline. It showed an effort and a refuse-to-lose mentality that has to be buoying Galaxy fans following a mostly-deflating few weeks.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Gonzalez gets the nod here, getting the opening goal and providing the save that ultimately preserved the margin of victory.