Galaxy dominates Atlanta for 2-0 home win

Kévin Cabral celebrates goal as LA Galaxy dominates Atlanta United FC 2-0 in Carson, California

CARSON, CAThe Galaxy dominates Atlanta United at home in Dignity Health Sports Park. The Los Angeles Galaxy responded to a three-game losing streak with a dominant 2-0 home win against Atlanta United Sunday night.

Galaxy dominates Atlanta for 2-0 home win

It was three points they desperately needed, as results around the league had dropped them to ninth place and out of playoff contention before a ball had even been kicked.

Galaxy Captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernández said as much before the match.

“Win man. Win. Three points, that’s what we need. Words cannot describe how much we need that.”

They responded to their captain’s plea by imposing themselves on an Atlanta side heavy on talent, but low on the fight. 

Los Angeles had never scored on Atlanta in three previous matches but broke that streak early thanks to Galaxy debutante Gaston Brugman.

The Uruguayan was at the heart of the goal-scoring play and showed why Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney has tried to bring him in for more than two years. Aside from starting the goal, he also led the team in duels won (eight), possessions won (six) and tackles won (three) on the night.

The former Parma man stopped an Atlanta counterattack in transition, where his recovery allowed the Galaxy to be high up the pitch and in a dangerous goal position.

He flicked the ball forward to Chicharito outside the top of the box, who played it back to Rayan Raveloson. Raveloson played Douglas Costa down the right flank in the penalty box with a weighted pass. A streaking Costa centered the ball to the middle of the box, where Chicharito’s first-timed shot was saved by the Atlanta Goalkeeper Rocco Rios-Novo. Rios-Novo could not keep out the rebound and the ball was tipped in by Kévin Cabral at the near post to give the Galaxy the early 1-0 lead. 

Cabral gaining form?

It is the Frenchman’s first goal in 24 MLS games, since October 2021, and it gave the Galaxy the perfect start. They improved to 8-1-1 in MLS play when scoring first.

Cabral was dangerous throughout, stretching the Atlanta defense with run-ins behind their defense.

He certainly could have added more, however. A close-range miss from a Julian Araujo cross in the first half gave us the full spectrum of the Galaxy DP’s game; from ecstasy one moment to agony the next. 

For all the criticism, he might be finally starting to produce. Vanney will hope that Cabral can continue to add to his goal against Atlanta and the assist he had against San Jose. 

“Yeah, but, the one thing you can’t take away is the sheer amount of running and work that he does. I mean, we miss the chances right now, he’s a player who is growing in front of the goal, and he has to continue to improve, but the volume of running and his speed running, there isn’t anyone else who does that,” Vanney said in defense of his much-maligned winger. “I mean, he’s one of the top guys in the league when it comes to that. And, you need that. It opens up space for other people. We probably get six chances to, if he’s not on the field, maybe two.” 

But if you only get two chances in a game, if you’re a Galaxy fan, you want one of them falling to Dejan Joveljić.

Dejan again!

Deep in injury time, Víctor Vázquez flicked a pass from the left flank to Joveljić, who dribbled into the box and curled a driven strike into the right corner of the goal for his ninth goal of the season. 

The Serbian striker continues to score, icing the game for the Galaxy 2-0 to secure three points. It was a balm for the Galaxy, who picked up only their third win in the last 11 games. More importantly, they were able to earn the shutout at home, where L.A. has already lost more times this year than all last season.

Joveljić, who claimed he was the “future of the Galaxy” postgame, could very well be right. He leads the team in goals scored, chipping in with eight and providing two assists in his past eight matches (four starts). 

The “future” needs more time as the Galaxy dominates Atlanta

Thanks to his contributions as a substitute, the Galaxy has scored 11 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches. Joveljić was involved in seven of those, with five goals and two assists. 

If the Galaxy is to be successful, Vanney needs to find a way to get him on the pitch for more minutes. 

“I mean of course. If you ask me if I am happy when I’m on the bench, of course, I’m not. Every player wants to play 90 minutes,” the striker explained when asked if he should be starting. “I mean, I am a professional. If I get five, 10, or 90 minutes, my job is to do the best that I can at that moment. So, I will continue like that.”

If Joveljić does continue, and Cabral can continue to produce, the Galaxy just might have turned the corner with their latest victory. It brought them an emotional lift and lifted them back above the playoff line to seventh place. 

With only 13 games left of their season, Los Angeles knows every point matters. 

They’ll get the opportunity to go to Dallas and get revenge for an ugly home defeat next Saturday.

Photo Credit: LA Galaxy on July 24, 2022.