SANDY, Utah -- While Cristian Pavon’s goal and an assist in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake definitely factored into the result, getting the LA Galaxy to play their best was probably the bigger result of his time on the field.
“Cristian was big not just in the result, but the result of how we play,” LA Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said after the win. “We can keep the ball more high in the offensive area and today he was wonderful.”
The impact Pavon can have on the game was evident coming out of the first half. He pushed the LA attack higher up and created pressure that led to two second-half goals as the Galaxy clinched a berth in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“[In the first half], we made the game very slow and we should play very fast,” Schelotto said. “When the game is fast, it’s good for us.”
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The Argentine, added during the summer transfer window, scored his second goal since his arrival in the 50th minute, getting around an RSL defender and sneaking the ball past Nick Rimando. In the 80th minute, he outdueled Justen Glad for a ball on the end line and found Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a simple shot with the goal at his mercy.
“We created two goals out of almost nothing,” LA defender Dave Romney said.
Specifically, Pavon and Ibrahimovic created the two goals out of very little. Both finished with a goal and an assist and during the three-game win streak the Galaxy are on, the potential of their partnership has been on display.
“That partnership continues to grow,” LA midfielder Servando Carrasco said. “To see the stuff Cristian can do in 1-v-1 situations creates more space for Ibra, and those two guys are going to be huge for us.”
Wednesday night was Pavon’s ninth start with the Galaxy and he has had at least one assist in seven of them. While he’s skilled and has a nose for goal, his impact has gone beyond the stat sheet to bringing the team together as a more cohesive group, so he and Ibrahimovic can be successful.
“Today the team supported them to bring the best for Ibra and the best for Pavon,” Schelotto said. “It’s worked out for the team."