LA Galaxy super-sub striker Dejan Joveljic: "I am the future"

Dejan Joveljic can't stop scoring, which means questions continue about whether the U22 Initiative signing should be a starter for the LA Galaxy.

Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park, the Serbian forward netted his team-leading ninth goal of the 2022 season, a stoppage-time strike that helped the Galaxy secure a 2-0 win over Atlanta United.

He came off the bench again, replacing Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the 75th minute before clinically finishing off a “perfect” feed from Victor Vazquez for his league-best sixth goal scored as a substitute.

“I mean, nothing special,” Joveljic said when asked about his sharpness, especially late in matches. “Most of the time I play in the last 15 minutes, so [laughs].”

While Chicharito has earned the start in head coach Greg Vanney’s preferred single-striker formation (4-2-3-1), Joveljic has often served as a super-sub.

The Mexican superstar might be the face of the Galaxy now, but Joveljic sees his role changing going forward.

“I am the future of Galaxy,” Joveljic told FS1 broadcasters Rob Stone and Alexi Lalas on the field after the match. “I have to say that I’m happy. I mean, I have to do my job even if I play 15 minutes, five minutes, 90 minutes. My job is to score and I show it again.”

Joveljic has started five matches and has come off the bench 14 times this season. By contrast, the 34-year-old Chicharito has seven goals in 19 appearances (18 starts).

“If you ask me if I am happy when I'm on the bench, of course I'm not,” Joveljic said. “Every player wants to play 90 minutes. I mean, I am a professional. If I get five, 10, 90 minutes, my job is to do the best that I can in that moment. So, I will continue like that.”

In his last eight regular-season appearances, Joveljic has eight goals and two assists. No player in MLS has contributed to more goals and assists (10) during that span. Only Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar (8 goals) has tallied as many goals as Joveljic since May 28.

Joveljic became the fourth player in Galaxy history to score in six consecutive regular-season games at home, joining Zlatan Ibrahimovic (nine straight games in 2019), Carlos Ruiz (six straight games in 2002-03) and Welton (six straight games in 1997-98).

Joveljic’s latest goal helped the Galaxy snap a three-match losing streak and move ahead of the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference's Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line.

“I mean, yeah, I can say that I have confidence,” Joveljic said. “But that is because the team played good. The team is playing good. Last three games we did not do so well. But finally, we bounce back and are [back to winning ways]. I'm so glad that we won today in front of our amazing fans.”