It was a successful opening weekend for the LA Galaxy, a tremendous start to the Greg Vanney era.
The club put forth a strong performance, dominating possession and showing resiliency to twice come from behind and earn a 3-2 win over Inter Miami CF. In the process, star forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored a brace, easing the pressure after a difficult debut season in MLS last year.
“I’m so happy for Chicha, he deserved that," new teammate Victor Vazquez said succinctly.
Hernandez, as has been well publicized, scored only two goals last year in 12 appearances. His opening day brace has already equaled his output from last year, one that he called the most difficult of his career.
"Javier getting off to a two-goal start is great," Vanney said. "He’s put a lot of pressure on himself, a lot of people have talked about that and his struggles, but getting off to that start allows him to relax. He’s not pushing and forcing for that first goal. He’s going to get his chances, his goals are going to come, but being able to relax and trust that process is easier. I’m sure there’s some relief, he’s a fantastic player and the ball is going to go into the back of the net as long as he’s him.”
Chicharito wasn't the only key veteran to get off to a good start, as 34-year-old Vazquez picked up right where he left off in MLS after departing two years ago. He had made 52 appearances for Vanney in Toronto, playing an integral role in their historic treble-winning 2017 campaign, adding 16 goals and 25 assists in regular season play.
“Victor looks like the same Victor," Vanney said. "The thing about Victor, he plays the game in his mind before anyone else on the field figures out what’s going on.”
Vazquez spent time in Qatar and Belgium before returning stateside, saying he missed everything about the league while he was gone.
Now, the club has long shifted focus to week two and keeping the momentum. The Galaxy welcome the New York Red Bulls to town for their home opener and it'll be a completely different game. Miami were content to concede possession to the Galaxy, playing under the South Florida heat with a team that Inter head coach Phil Neville admitted were lacking full match fitness. The Red Bulls, of course, are the exact opposite.
Gerhard Struber's high-pressing system was in full effect last weekend, even though the Red Bulls lost to Sporting KC 2-1.
“There are some things that will suit us," Vanney said. "We’re a team who likes to get the ball moving faster, so when a team makes us play faster with the press, that suits us. But it’ll be a more intense game than we’ve seen. … There are things that we’ll need to be attentive to. We have to be sharp, pressure is going to come faster and more aggressive than it did.”