PORTLAND, Ore. – The LA Galaxy first team has had a problem holding leads at the end of matches this season, but on Sunday at JELD-WEN Field, the reserve squad was determined not to suffer the same fate.
The Galaxy reserves held on for a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers reserves with forward Jose Villarreal scoring the lone goal in the 11th minute off a free kick. With the early lead, the reserves were organized defensively and also received plenty of assistance from goalkeepers Brian Perk and Brian Rowe, who combined for six saves on the night (Perk with four and two for Rowe).
WATCH: Villarreal postgame reaction
Following the reserve squad’s second win of the season, midfielder Pablo Mastroeni admitted that the first team’s dramatic defeat was in the back of the team’s mind at all times
“Everyone felt terrible after last night and that was our focus if we got a lead in this game, was to be able to close it off,” said Mastroeni, who served as the reserve team captain on Sunday. “It was brought to our attention because that was something that we all experienced last night. To be able to [close out the game] tonight is a step in the right direction, and hopefully we can build on that.”
Late goals have been a problem for the reserves as well as they dropped points in their last contest against the Los Angeles Blues on June 15 when the USL Pro side grabbed a stoppage time goal from Chris Cortez to steal a 1-1 draw at StubHub Center.
Whereas against the Blues, the Galaxy were unable to close out the match, on Sunday, LA managed the result well against Portland as they kept the Timbers attack at bay.
“We played a really good game [against the Blues] and conceded at the end, but at least we learned from that. In lieu of what happened last night, it’s good that the guys showed composure and managed the end of the game appropriately,” said Galaxy assistant coach and reserve team coach Curt Onalfo. “The game demanded that we kept the 1-0 lead and win the game. I’m pleased with how we finished it out and getting three points on the road.”
WATCH: Mastroeni postgame reaction
For all of their success on the defensive end, the victory would not have been possible if not for a fine finish by Villarreal off a freekick from 22-yards out. Although it was a classy goal that was curled over the wall, past the dive of Portland goalkeeper Milos Kocic, the forward didn’t actually get a chance to admire his attempt.
“I didn’t see go into the net because the wall was so tall, and I’m so short, but it was a good goal,” said Villarreal with a smile. “I’m happy that I got to help out the team like that with the winning goal. It was important for me and the team,” said Villarreal. “I had a good performance today and hopefully that goes along with me getting a little more minutes with the first team, but if that’s not the case then I’ll still keep working hard to get the minutes that I want.”
As the first team and the reserves look to turn their fortunes around in the summer months, the confident young forward believes that LA is moving in the right direction.
“We’re in pretty good shape right now, other than the fact that we didn’t get the result last night,” said Villarreal. “We just have to fight through it and hopefully make it better to make it to the playoffs.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com