CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy believe they have something special in Stefan Ishizaki, whose hour-long performance atop Bruce Arena's new midfield diamond had a big role in Sunday's romp over Chivas USA.
The Swedish midfielder's impressive runs and defensive acumen, plus a nifty goal to forge a two-goal lead by halftime, helped the Galaxy to a 3-0 triumph in the season's first SuperClasico and LA's first win of the season this past Sunday.
All this despite him not yet being where he wants be.
“In time, he's going to give us good passing,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the game. “He's capable of scoring goals out of that position, which he demonstrated today. But he needs a little time.
“He's still making the adjustment to the league, and [this] is a difficult game for a player like that. He's played in Europe his whole life, a lot in Scandinavia, and all of a sudden he's on a field, it's about 80 degrees, it's sticky and all that, so that was a challenge [for him].”
Ishizaki dealt with it fairly well. Arena wants to see him “deal with the speed and the pressure on the ball a little bit better,” and the veteran himself wants to be sharper.
“I felt like my runs wee good, but I felt my touch wasn't really there, actually. A little bit sloppy at times,” Ishizaki said. “It's not really how I play. I try to be clean with it, but especially the beginning of the second half, I was a little bit sloppy. I have to get better on that.”
Defensively, he made Chivas midfielder Agustín Pelletieri a non-issue, and his 41st-minute goal, a chip over goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and into the right-post netting from Juninho's through ball, was a delight.
“There's not a ton of guys in the league,” Landon Donovan noted, “who can score the goal that Stefan did.”
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Even so, the striker was not initially was Ishizaki intended. His first touch on the play was meant to simply create space beyond Goats center back Carlos Bocanegra, but it was heavier than Ishizaki desired.
“I wanted to first touch to really go past the defender,” Ishizaki said. “I took it a little too wide. I wanted it a little bit close to goal. As soon as I saw the keeper come, I was confident I was going to shoot.”
With Kennedy coming off his line, the poor touch was actually perfect.
“Yeah, considering what happened, when the keeper came out,” Ishizaki agreed. “If he would have been on his line, I would have had to cross it, so I'm glad he came out of his line and I was able to shoot.”