CARSON, Calif. – Ema Boateng didn’t get his name on the scoresheet in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers, but head coach Sigi Schmid was full of praise for his speedy Ghanaian winger.
In the first match of the 2018 season, Boateng slashed through the Timbers defense, repeatedly blazing past Portland’s Alvas Powell in the process. Two such runs ultimately resulted in goals as the speedster twice burned his man to put the Galaxy in position to put the ball in the back of the net.
Following the win, Schmid complimented the midfielder on the growth he’s shown in recent weeks.
“Ema was dangerous, he’s fantastic, his speed. We’ve been asking him to use his speed more to take people on, to make runs with and without the ball to get behind, and I think today he showed that,” Schmid said. “Now the final stage for Ema [Boateng] is to finish what he starts. So, if he could finish what he starts, he probably wouldn’t be playing for us anymore, he’d be playing in Europe.
“But you know, we need him to do that. His willingness to come back and help defend, he made a couple of good defensive plays, but it’s also his willingness to now run without the ball, I think his game has taken another jump. It’s good.”
Boateng enters the 2018 campaign after a melancholic season a year ago that saw him set personal bests in goals and assists, while the team slumped to their worst record in club history. Determined to cut out a place for himself in the starting XI, Boateng circled the Portland match as his way of making an impact on Schmid’s squad.
“I thought I played well all the way up until the final third. I created some chances but maybe should have put one or two away. I just need to make sure that I’m sharper next time,” Boateng said. “I thought I was fresh today. I was able to get behind my man most of the time. Two of the goals started with runs that I made, where someone else finished in the end. I felt good about that part. The only part is that I want to score when I get in those situations.”
As for Schmid’s European compliment? Boateng intends to repay his head coach’s confidence in the weeks ahead.
“That was high praise from him,” a smiling Boateng told reporters. “Hopefully, I can keep playing like that and provide opportunities for my team.”