Bruce Arena selected a complete reserve unit to play an important CONCACAF Champions League group match against the Puerto Rico Islanders and was rewarded with a comprehensive 4-0 victory.
Tommy Meyer started the goalscoring in the 7th minute when the center back got on the end of a corner kick from Kenney Walker. The rookie from Indiana beat his man to the ball and headed it from the back post down and into the goal, providing the Galaxy with the early lead.
Jose Villarreal got the second half started with a bang when he scored in the 46th minute. Hector Jimenez played a long ball out of the back, Jack McBean flicked it into the path of Villarreal who dribbled past the keeper and put it into the net. Unfortunately, Villarreal was suffered a blow to the head on the play and did not return to the game.
Jack McBean added the third goal in the 80th minute after his original shot was blocked by the Islanders defense. Stephens crossed him the ball, McBean took a volleyed shot, then retrieved the rebound and put it into the roof of the net.
Two minutes later Michael Stephens capped the scoring when a deflected pass fell into his path. The Puerto Rico defense was off balance and Stephens one-timed the shot into the net to cap the scoring.
The resounding victory leaves the Galaxy at the top of the three team group. The group winner is the only team to advance, and the Galaxy put themselves in great position with six points at home and a +7 goal differential. The Galaxy have the tough task of going on the road for their next two matches in group play, but they are in pole position for qualification for the knockout rounds.
Edson Buddle made his return to the lineup in the second half when he came on for Pat Noonan. Buddle made some good moves, but was just happy to return to the field.
The Galaxy’s starting lineup consisted of Brian Perk, Hector Jimenez, Meyer, Andrew Boyens, Bryan Gaul, Stephens, Rafael Garcia, Walker, Pat Noonan, Villarreal, and McBean. The frontline consisted of two teenagers and there were four more rookies in the starting lineup. Jimenez started out of position at right back instead of his natural right midfield position.
Arena elected to go with the backup lineup as a reward for their great play in the Reserve League. The team is atop the Western Conference Reserve Division. The team showed great chemistry throughout the match. The movement and interchange throughout the lineup were great. Villarreal and McBean had a magnificent understanding with each other. The team completely dominated the Puerto Rico Islanders holding 58% of the possession and outshooting them 16-3.
Stephens was important throughout the match as he provided great linking play. The indefatigable midfielder was able to get up and down the flank and was rewarded with his second half goal.
Bruce Arena’s decision may have been made easier to start his reserves when he knew that Landon Donovan would not play due to his injured hamstring. Robbie Keane was serving his one game suspension for his ridiculous red card in the team’s last CCL game against Isidro Metapan.
It was a comprehensive victory for the Galaxy, one that will give their manager extreme confidence in his young players as they came out and dominated a team that knocked the Galaxy out of the CCL two years ago. They played well throughout the night, and put the game away in the second half, something that could have proved nervy with so many young players on the field.
Next MLS Match: 7 PM, Sat Sept 1 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Next CCL Match: 5 PM, Wed Sept 19 @ Puerto Rico Islanders