LA Galaxy Hand Chicago Fire a 4-0 Loss in Season Opener
By Kim Tate
CARSON, CA - The LA Galaxy surely didn't disappoint a home crowd of over 20,000 fans at their season opener this afternoon. The MLS Cup Champions handed Chicago a 4-0 defeat, in a game that proved Galaxy can get along just fine without the help of David Beckham or Landon Donovan. Chicago - born Mike Magee scored his first career hat trick, and it was only his second regular season game in 11 seasons where he's scored more than once.
The first half saw back and forth action between both teams, with Sean Johnson being the one having to make more saves than Galaxy newcomer Carlo Cudicini. Chicago's best chances in the first half came mid way through, when Cudicini's mistake of dribbling the ball into the feet of Chris Rolfe gave Chicago an an opportunity to attack. The attacking midfielder beat out the LA defense and struck from an akward angle at close range, but his shot went just inches wide of the far post. Maicon Santos also missed a great chance on a header from only a few yards out that he, too, shot wide.
LA's first goal came just minutes later in the 38th minute, when the pressure and consistency of the Galaxy finally beat Johnson, who -much to his credit - made some excellent saves throughout the entire game. Todd Dunivant was able to serve Magee, who found space in Chicago's box and scored what would be his first of three goals.
During the second half, LA Galaxy saw three more chances saved by Johnson, including a low ball intentionally deflected off his foot, denying another LA goal. Chicago saw its best chance of the second half coming from a free kick that Cudicini punched away just inches from the crossbar.
From then on, it was all Galaxy. Both teams each made a substitution minutes before Magee nabbed his second of the game, giving LA a 2-0 lead in the 68th minute. Five minutes later, he grabbed his third, giving him his first career hat trick and lifting Galaxy up to 3-0 over the Fire.
In the 80th minute, Robbie Keane broke through after Michael Stephens crossed the ball in to Omar Gonzales, who headed it to Keane to finish in typical Robbie Keane fashion. Going forward, it was close call after close call with LA applying heavy pressure, several attempts barely going wide of Chicago's goal. In the 91st minute, Jalil Anibaba deflected a shot from LA to stop what could have been a fifth Galaxy goal.
The Fire did little to respond in the entire second half, suffering a 4-0 loss on their first game of the season.
Next up for the Galaxy: LA will travel to Costa Rica for the CONCACAF Champions League Semi Finals, where they will face Heridiano in the first of 2 legs. They join Seattle Soundes and Houston Dynamo as the only remaining MLS clubs in the competition. Their next regular season MLS game will be Sunday, March 17th against Chivas USA, who lost their season opener 3-0 against Columbus Crew Saturday night.
Chicago Fire will face New England Revolution at Toyota Park on Sunday March 9th before travelling to Kansas City, to take on Sporting KC on Saturday March 16th. They make the trek back to the Home Depot Center in Carson on Sunday, March 24th to face Chivas USA.