The new-look Galaxy picked up Saturday where the old model left off, falling 3-1 to Real Salt Lake in Tucson, Ariz., in their first preseason exhibition of the new year.
But the news wasn’t all bad. Midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who had his 2017 season end early with a foot injury, played for the first time in 10 months, going 30 minutes and setting up the Galaxy’s lone goal by defender Michael Ciani.
“It was great to just walk out there. It’s been a long road,” Lletget said. “I did have some butterflies. I treated it like a season opener.”
With the exception of Lletget, a likely starter who came off the bench Saturday, coach Sigi Schmid opened with what figures to be his regular-season lineup. David Bingham started in goal behind a back line of Rolf Feltscher, Jorgen Skjelvik, Daniel Steres and Ashley Cole. Perry Kitchen, Jonathan dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos and Ema Boateng started in the midfield with Ola Kamara as a lone striker up top.
Six of those 11 players weren’t on the roster when Schmid took over as coach last July, a little more than halfway through the worst season in franchise history.
Ciani’s goal, which gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute, came two minutes after Schmid pulled his starters inserting, among others, 15-year-old academy product Efrain Alvarez. On the play, Lletget bent a long right-footed pass to the edge of the six-yard box for Ciani, who headed it toward the far post. Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando got a hand on the shot, but not enough to keep it out of the net.
Salt Lake answered with three second-half scores, the first a penalty-kick goal from Sebastian Saucedo. Nick Besler then put Salt Lake ahead to stay after Galaxy keeper Brian Sylvestre pushed his lunging stop of David Horst’s header directly into Besler’s path, who calmly slotted the rebound home.
Sebastian Velasquez then added an insurance goal to close things out.
The Galaxy will return from a week of training in Tucson on Monday, then continue their preseason schedule Feb. 10 against New York City FC at StubHub Center.