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Giovani dos Santos scores in his MLS debut, a 3-1 win for Galaxy

Giovani dos Santos scores in his MLS debut, a 3-1 win for Galaxy
Galaxyforward Giovani Dos Santos scores against Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the 64th minute of his MLS debut on Aug. 9at StubHub Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Giovani dos Santos held his hands aloft and clapped as he walked off the field midway through the second half. It was his turn to soak in the revelry on a day the Galaxy spent celebrating the newest star of its high-powered attack.

An introductory video featuring Dos Santos played on the video board at StubHub Center before he made his Major League Soccer debut Sunday afternoon, eliciting cheers from the sellout crowd of 27,000. Dos Santos then triggered the loudest roars during player introductions.

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The decibel level rose again in the 64th minute when Dos Santos, playing forward instead of his customary spot in midfield, took a pass from Robbie Keane while racing toward the left side of the penalty area. Dos Santos dribbled a few yards before rocketing a shot past goaltender Stefan Frei and into the right side of the net, the final goal of the Galaxy's 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders.

"Gio made a fantastic run behind the two defenders, and that's not an easy finish, that play," Keane said. "He made it look easy."

Dos Santos raised his arms in triumph after matching Keane and fellow newcomer Steven Gerrard by scoring in his first MLS game. He was done for the day shortly after Keane hoisted him into the air, collecting high-fives and pats on the back as he departed in the 69th minute of a game in which he notched an assist to go with his goal.

There was so much interest in Dos Santos after his first MLS start that he took questions in English, Spanish and Portuguese during a postgame news conference.

"In French? Someone in French?" Dos Santos said, smiling.

The feel-good vibes extended from one end of the stadium to the other when it came to the $34-million man who was the most expensive acquisition in franchise history. Fans chanted his name and toted signs honoring the Mexican star.

"I'm glad Gio's family was here," Keane quipped. "They got about 10,000 right there."

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said he started Dos Santos at forward instead of midfield because the 26-year-old's fitness wasn't where it needed to be to play the latter position after being recently sidelined with a thigh injury. Arena also noted that "if you play an attacking player in a forward position, it's probably a good choice."

It certainly was Sunday as the Galaxy (11-7-7) boosted its league-leading total to 42 goals. Dos Santos contributed to the Galaxy's go-ahead goal in the 47th minute when he redirected a crossing pass from A.J. DeLaGarza on the left side of the goaltender's box to Keane, who blasted the ball into the net.

The offensively challenged Sounders (10-12-2) entered the game with a 362-minute scoring drought. But it did not reach 363 after forward Chad Barrett scored with only 51 seconds having elapsed, game-time confetti still flickering in the air around the Galaxy's goal.

In a sign of things to come for the Sounders, losers of a franchise-record five consecutive games, Barrett injured himself while celebrating the goal, clutching his right hamstring before crumpling to the ground and limping off the field.

Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes scored the tying goal in the 13th minute and notched a save later in the first half — with his colorfully coiffed head clearing the ball.

The rest of the game was a prolonged tribute to Dos Santos and the Galaxy's most star-studded attack since it featured Keane, Landon Donovan and David Beckham in 2012. Beckham watched his former team Sunday from a luxury suite, observing the start of what could be a new dominant trio.

"I see a lot of possibility," Dos Santos said. "We can achieve every goal we want."

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Twitter: @latbbolch

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