CARSON, Calif. – This was the performance the LA Galaxy brass has been patiently waiting for from Emmanuel Boateng.
The young winger has showcased his massive talent in flashes during the regular season, but it all came together for Boateng in an electrifying 75 minutes of the LA Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake in Wednesday's Knockout Round match that saw LA advance in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Excellent game,” head coach Bruce Arena said of Boateng’s performance. “We’ve been looking for him to break out a little bit and he did today.
“I think he had two great goals. He really didn't foul the player [Javier Morales] on the penalty kick, which was unfortunate, but I think it got him a little angry and he made up for it for sure.”
With the score tied at 1-1 following the penalty, Boateng picked up the ball at the top of the box and weaved his way through a mass of RSL bodies before poking it beyond goalkeeper Nick Rimando to restore the Galaxy’s lead in the 26th minute.
“If [Lionel] Messi scored a goal like that, people would be talking about it for weeks,” Landon Donovan said of Boateng’s first strike. “These guys have been telling me, since I’ve been back, that he has that in him.
“He was terrific and we need him to play like that,” Donovan concluded.
The 22-year-old then switched wings with Donovan and he spent the rest of the night tormenting RSL left back Demar Phillips down the right.
“He [Donovan] talked to me about it [switching flanks] during practices,” Boateng responded when asked who called for the wingers to swap sides. “He thought it was good to give the defense a little different look. I think it helped us. We got the third goal with the first ball I got on that [right] side. I just got to keep listening to that guy. I think he knows what he’s doing.”
After forcing Philips into a tackle that led to the RSL player receiving a yellow card, Boateng ran at him again in the 34th minute, skipping by the beleaguered defender before dispatching the ball beyond Rimando from an acute angle for the third strike.
It was Boateng’s fourth goal of the season, all of which have come against the Claret-and-Cobalt of Real Salt Lake.
“I don’t know.” Boateng responded when asked what it is about RSL that gets him in the mood. “I prepare for that game [against RSL] just as I prepare for every other game. I just take what the defense gives me.”