LOS ANGELES - In a marquee matchup between the five-time MLS Cup winners and the current MLS Cup champions, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez came through with late-game heroics to lead the LA Galaxy to a 1-0 win over New York City FC at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday afternoon.
The first half ended as it started on the scoreline, and while the stat sheet favored the Galaxy with shots and shots on goal advantages, NYCFC had some particularly threatening moments via Maxi Moralez – celebrating his 35th birthday on the pitch – as well as Santi Rodriguez, Talles Magno and Taty Castellanos. The 2021 Golden Boot presented by Audi winner just missed on a stoppage-time header veering wide of the post that looked the best chance of the half. Douglas Costa, featuring as a starter in his MLS debut, helped the Galaxy's cause by getting off two shots on goal to help tip the stat line to the home side in the opening 45.
The Galaxy looked livelier in the second half, in particular via Julian Araujo angling in crosses, aiming to involve the forwards and Victor Vazquez with some enticing chances. Chicharito also had a 68th-minute shot that forced Sean Johnson into a save – helping NYCFC to weather one of the most potent stretches of the match against the hosts. But LA had one more big burst of offensive potency in them, culminating in the talismanic Mexican forward getting loose on the left flank, juking Maxime Chanot en route to firing in the 90th-minute game-winner.
Heber very nearly found a stoppage-time equalizer in a late sub turn, but went just wide with the shot that fellow sub Keaton Parks teed up for him. The Galaxy prevailed.
90' — LA — Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez
- THE BIG PICTURE: This is a big three points at home to start the season for the Galaxy and provides the right start for them to return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Having their star score the match’s only goal makes the narrative all the sweeter. NYCFC have been encountering some travel and fixture congestion so far with Concacaf Champions League commitments, and defending their MLS Cup doesn’t get easier next week. The Cityzens will have to embark on another coast-to-coast journey to face the Whitecaps next weekend.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The match was crying out for a late goal, and it didn’t quite seem like it would come. Then Hernandez made a brilliant individual play – against one of the best defenders in the league – to provide the margin of victory.