No Beckham. No Keane. No Donovan…. No problem.
Fielding a reserve side featuring 10 changes from their CONCACAF Champions League opener, the LA Galaxy defeated the Puerto Rico Islanders 4-0 Wednesday night at the Home Depot Center.
With 18-year-old Jose Villarreal as the only player return to the starting XI from last weeks 5-2 win over Isidro Metapán, LA avenged a defeat to the Islanders in the qualifying stages of the 2010 CCL with goals from Tommy Meyer, Villarreal, Jack McBean and Michael Stephens.
The Galaxy opened the match’s scoring less than 10 minutes in when Meyer’s bullet header from the left side of the 6-yard box found the back of the net off a corner kick. The eventual game winner was the defender first goal since be drafted in the first round by the Galaxy before the start of the season.
Just minutes later, Villarreal almost made it two when his cross into the box was redirected by an Islanders defender and narrowly saved by the Islander goalkeeper. Applying pressure with excellent movement and passing through the midfield, the Galaxy would continue to press the Islanders throughout much of the first half but still fail to find a second.
They would not be waiting long however.
Almost directly from the match’s restart, Hector Jimenez’s long ball found the head of McBean just beyond midfield. The Galaxy forward’s flick-on header picked out the slashing run of Villarreal, who muscled his way between two defenders and toed the ball past Islander keeper Richard Martin in the 46th minute. The goal would be the youngster’s final contribution on the night though as a knock on the head received in the process led to his substitution in the 51st minute. LA were far from finished though.
McBean would turn recipient after setting up Villarreal’s goal when his second attempt at a Jimenez cross was fired into the upper left corner in the 79th minute. And rounding out the night’s revenge and capping his MOTM-like performance, Stephens added LA’s fourth with an incisive run through the middle of the Islander’s defense and a cool right-footed finish in the 81st.
The win distances LA from the rest of the pack in Group 5 with six points from two matches and an impressive plus-7 goal differential.
The Galaxy will travel to finish out group play starting with the return leg in Puerto Rico on Sept. 19, before closing out the group away to Metapán in October. And Saturday, the Galaxy will be back in MLS play, when they counter the team directly below them in the standings, the Vancouver Whitecaps, in a match with potential playoff implications.