Chicharito scores twice in Galaxy road win over San Jose Earthquakes

A San Jose goalkeeper defends against a Galaxy player.
Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, rear, defends against Galaxy star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez Wednesday in Sandy, Utah.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

The Galaxy dominated the latest leg of the Cali Clasico, earning a 3-0 road win over the Earthquakes on Saturday.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored twice against the San Jose Earthquakes, giving the Galaxy star 10 goals so far this season.

The Earthquakes scored on their own goal to seal the Galaxy’s 3-0 victory.

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández scores twice in Galaxy’s win over San Jose

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández scored two goals and the Galaxy beat the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 in the Cali Clasico on Saturday night.

Hernández opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a charging run through the center of the area and a close-range volley to finish Samuel Grandsir’s well-placed cross.

Chicharito gave the Galaxy (7-3-0) a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute, tapping in Kévin Cabral’s cross for his MLS-leading 10th goal of the season.

The Earthquakes’ Florian Jungwirth scored an own goal in the 70th minute to make it 3-0 for the Galaxy. The Galaxy’s Cameron Dunbar forced the action with a low hard cross through the 6-yard box that diving San Jose goalkeeper James Marcinkowski slightly deflected, causing Jungwirth to misplay it.

Cade Cowell scored for the Earthquakes (3-7-1) in the 82nd minute. It was the 17-year-old’s third goal of the season and San Jose’s second goal in its last seven matches. San Jose went 0-6-1 over that stretch.


Earthquakes give up own goal

Cameron Dunbar’s cross into the box bounced off the Earthquakes’ Florian Jungwirth for an own goal in the 70th minute, giving the Galaxy a 3-0 lead.

Neither team scored again and the Galaxy earned the Cali Clasico victory.


Chicharito strikes again for Galaxy

In the 50th minute, Kévin Cabral found Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez streaking up field. Chicharito delivered a right-footed shot from the center of the box to give the Galaxy a more comfortable 2-0 lead over the Earthquakes at PayPal Stadium.


Chicharito scores his ninth goal of season

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez corralled a pass from Samuel Grandsir, raced into the box and delivered a goal fired off his right foot in 11th minute.

It was Chicharito’s ninth goal of the season.

The Galaxy protected the advantage and lead the Earthquakes 1-0 at halftime.


Jonathan dos Santos returns to Galaxy starting lineup

Captain Jonathan dos Santos returns to the Galaxy starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s win over the Whitecaps.


Efraín Álvarez breaks late tie, Galaxy beat Whitecaps 2-1

Efraín Álvarez scored in stoppage time to give the Galaxy a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night.

Álvarez connected in the 93rd minute, scoring his second MLS goal just a minute after the Whitecaps’ Janio Bikel found the far post to tie it with his first MLS goal.

The Galaxy (6-3-0) have won four of their last six. Vancouver (2-6-1) has lost five straight.

Chicharito opened the scoring for the Galaxy in the 47th minute. He’s tied for the league lead with eight goals.

Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond came up with a late diving save off a headed attempt by Caio Alexandre seconds before time expired.


Galaxy scores late goal to seal 2-1 road win over Whitecaps

Cristian Dájome headed a pass to Janio Bikel, who put away a right footed shot to the bottom left corner in the second minute of stoppage time to level the match 1-1.

A minute later, Efraín Álvarez scored off a set piece, delivering a left footed shot from the far right side of the box to the top left corner.

His late goal proved to be the game winner for the Galaxy.


Chicharito scores off an uncontested shot in box

Sacha Kljestan fed Sebastian Lletget on the right side, who sliced a cross to Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez at the far post. Chicharito easily scored his eighth goal of the season uncontested.


Galaxy, Whitecaps close first half scoreless

The Galaxy and Whitecaps are scoreless at halftime.

The Galaxy held a possession and delivered five shots, but none were on target. The Whitecaps, meanwhile, closed the half with no shots.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez had one shot blocked and was offside on another run.


Galaxy to face Whitecaps club coping with epic road trip spanning 20 months

Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau warms up
Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and his teammates have not played a home match in Canada since the pandemic began.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Axel Schuster was named sporting director for the Vancouver Whitecaps 20 months ago. Since then, he’s seen his team play one home game in front of fans.

Yet that’s one more game than 18 of the men on his roster have played before a home crowd. With the U.S. border closed to nonessential travel since March 2020, Major League Soccer’s three Canadian teams have spent most of the last two seasons on the road. And that’s been an especially trying experience for the Whitecaps, who host the Galaxy on Wednesday in their temporary home in Sandy, Utah.

“There’s an emotional toll,” Vancouver coach Marc dos Santos said. “It’s really hard.”

That’s been reflected in the team’s play. The Whitecaps (2-5-1), second to last in the 13-team Western Conference, have lost four in a row and five of their last six. Their only two wins coming in an empty Rio Tinto Stadium, a venue they share with MLS rival Real Salt Lake. Spectators will be admitted for a Whitecaps’ “home” game for the first time Wednesday, but even that’s something of a pyrrhic victory since the majority of those fans will likely be cheering for the visiting Galaxy.

The Whitecaps aren’t only missing their fans though. They’re also missing one of their two designated players in Iraqi defender Ali Adnan, who remains stranded in Canada because he can’t get the appropriate U.S. visa. Schuster said he was close to signing at least three other players only to have them balk when they learned the team was homeless.

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos watches a match from the sideline
Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos watches his team play Toronto FC April 24 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla. It was a Toronto home match.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

And Schuster has no idea when that will end. Although the latest extension of the border closure will expire July 21, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau wants 75% of Canadians to be vaccinated before he’ll lift the restrictions. That’s nearly four times the current number.

“We’ve gotten used to taking it one day at a time, one game at a time,” said former UCLA midfielder Andy Rose. “Of course, we’d love to get back to Vancouver. There are guys on our team who haven’t even stepped foot in the city.”

The Whitecaps, who spent the final 10 weeks of last season in a hotel in Portland, Ore., have been gone so long Cristina Dagenais, the wife of goalkeeper Max Crépeau, gave birth to a daughter in Utah. A member of the team’s front office is returning with his wife to Vancouver this weekend to have their baby, both to be with family and to avoid the astronomical health-care costs in the U.S.

Other players and staff have been separated from their families for months since even the shortest trip home requires a quarantine.

“It’s an incredibly uncommon situation. But that’s the way it is,” Dos Santos said. “When I look at the positive of it, it really tests your resilience as a person, as a coach, as a human being. It’s only going to make us better.

“But it’s much more challenging than people think.”

Canada’s other two MLS teams, CF Montreal (3-3-2) and Toronto FC (1-5-2), have relocated to Florida where they have also struggled playing behind closed doors. But if they had stayed in Canada, they might not be playing at all.

“There is no other solution. People are still dying,” Schuster said.

Added Rose: “It doesn’t help anybody to just make excuses.”

Vancouver Whitecaps' Leonard Owusu (17), Ranko Veselinovic, center, and Andy Rose (15) celebrate
Vancouver Whitecaps’ Leonard Owusu (17), Ranko Veselinovic, center, and Andy Rose (15) celebrate their 2-0 win over CF Montréal May 8 in Sandy, Utah.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Besides, things have gotten better. Last fall, Vancouver’s players were stuck alone in a downtown hotel at a time when Portland was embroiled in nightly protests and the sky was thick with smoke from nearby wildfires. This season many players and staff have brought family members — even pets — with them and they’ve been given furnished apartments or condominiums as well as rental cars and other perks to make the road seem like home.

“It’s a unique challenge,” Rose said. “In a weird way [it’s] something we’ve kind of gotten used to. We’re fortunate to have our families here with us. Everything’s been taken care of. We look at it like an adventure.”

The team even has its own sprawling training facility, taking one abandoned when Salt Lake City’s NWSL team moved to Kansas City.

“The club [has] tried to make our secondary home the best that it could possibly be,” said Ed Georgica, the Whitecaps’ head of operations and facilities. “We’re always trying to be proactive and help with every player’s needs.”

Georgica has found doctors for the players and OBGYNs for their wives and girlfriends. He’s taken care of sick pets, handled late-night calls about broken fire alarms and solved IT problems for staff members. He even replaced the red paint and carpet at the training facility with Whitecaps’ blue.

“I did not think I’d be doing this, relocating a team of 90-plus people to Salt Lake City,” said the selfless Georgica, who has become the Whitecaps’ MVP. “This is the craziest thing.”

Maybe. But Schuster, the team’s sporting director and CEO, prefers to focus on what’s important. And that has nothing to do with wins or losses and everything to do with surviving the final throes of a deadly pandemic — even if it takes a 20-month-long road trip to make that happen.

“Nobody has lost his job,” he said. “So if that is the only problem you have in life, you should not complain. There are people going through much harder times than us.”


Galaxy confident they can rebound from home loss to Sounders

With five wins in their first seven games, the Galaxy entered the final day of spring Saturday off to their second-best start in more than a decade.

Whether that will prove to be a false start or a pace the team can maintain through a hot and hectic summer could be revealed during the next phase of the season, a frantic dash of five games in 19 days and one the Galaxy began with a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders.

“We’re arriving into kind of the dog days of MLS summer,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “Our games get challenging. And we’re starting to find out a little more who’s for real.”

Dignity Health Sports Park was open to capacity for the first time in more than 15 months, although the crowd of 23,165 was more than 2,500 short of sold out. And it was a homecoming the Sounders spoiled on goals from Yeimar Gómez Andrade and Raúl Ruidíaz.

Sacha Kljestan’s penalty-kick goal was the lone score for the Galaxy, who lost at home for this first time. The loss also was the second of the season to the Sounders, who have dropped just one of their last 14 with the Galaxy dating to 2016.

“So frustrating and disappointing to lose at home in front of the big crowd,” Kljestan said. “That was so fun to play in front of them again.”

The quick start for Vanney’s club could be misleading given that only one of the first seven games came against a team that entered the weekend with a winning record. Yet over the next 2½ weeks, an exhausting span that began against the unbeaten Sounders (6-0-3), the Galaxy will average a game every 3½ days, including matches against the two top teams in the Western Conference, Seattle and Kansas City, and one against San Jose, another playoff contender.

It’s a stretch that will be made more difficult by the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. The Galaxy, who were again without injured captain Jonathan dos Santos, lost center back Daniel Steres with a hamstring injury in the eighth minute and could lose as many as three other starters to international duty next month.

“A lot remains to be played,” Kljestan said. “This isn’t going to make or break us.”

The Galaxy (5-3-0) were in control for long stretches Saturday and struck first on Kljestan’s goal in the 21st minute. Referee Drew Fischer awarded the penalty after Seattle’s João Paulo ran into Galaxy striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández from behind.

Galaxy defender Sega Coulibaly, center, collides with Seattle Sounders defender Abdoulaye Cissoko
Galaxy defender Sega Coulibaly, center, collides with Seattle Sounders defender Abdoulaye Cissoko, left, as Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo runs behind Saturday in Carson.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The goal was only the fourth Seattle has conceded in nine games, none of them coming in open play. But the Galaxy would put just one more shot on target all afternoon, allowing the Sounders to rally from only their second deficit of the season on Andrade’s bullet of a header just before halftime.

Ruidíaz then put the Sounders ahead to stay four minutes into the second half, batting in the rebound of a Jonathan Bond save for his seventh goal of the season, matching Hernández for the MLS lead.

With reinforcements arriving from France — center back Séga Coulibaly made his MLS debut against Seattle and midfielder Rayan Raveloson is expected to join the team next week — Vanney is confident the Galaxy can weather the challenges of the next few weeks. In fact, he’s so confident, last week he told his team not to make any early vacation plans.

“I said ‘OK guys, mark it on your calendar because we’re going to have a say in how this thing finishes,’ ” he said. “We’re really making steps forward and our group is getting deeper, our group is betting better.”

The next two weeks could go a long way toward determining whether he’s right.


Galaxy fall short of sellout after capacity restrictions lifted


Raúl Ruidíaz and Sounders pounce, take 2-1 lead early in second half

Raúl Ruidíaz and the Sounders immediately pounced on the Galaxy defense to open the second half. A shot off a free kick was deflected by Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and Ruidíaz scored off the rebound. His right-footed shot to the bottom right corner of the frame slipped past Bond in the 49th minute.

The Galaxy trail the Sounders 2-1.


Yeimar Gómez scores first-half equalizer for Sounders

After a João Paulo foul set up the Galaxy’s first goal, he helped deliver the equalizer for the Sounders.

Paulo set up a Yeimar Gómez with a cross following a corner in the 41st minute.

The match is now level at 1-1 shortly before halftime.


Sacha Kljestan converts penalty kick to give Galaxy 1-0 lead

João Paulo fouled Javier “Chicharito” in the box, earning a penalty kick for the Galaxy in the ninth minute.

Veteran Sacha Kljestan took the penalty and converted with a right-footed to the bottom right corner, giving the Galaxy an early 1-0 lead over the Sounders.


Galaxy welcome back capacity crowd for first time in 15 months

The Galaxy welcomed back a capacity crowd for the first time since COVID-19 shut down play in March 2020.

Times en Español sports editor Eduard Cauich captured some of the early supporter section energy.


Jonathan dos Santos misses Galaxy vs. Sounders match due to injury

The Galaxy faces the Sounders after an international break with their core lineup available except Jonathan dos Santos, who is out due to injury.


Séga Coulibaly part of Galaxy push to add talent from French market

The Galaxy's Séga Coulibaly, left, talks with Dan Calichman during training
The Galaxy’s Séga Coulibaly, left, talks with Dan Calichman during a training session.
(Robert Mora / LA Galaxy)

Séga Coulibaly has been in the U.S. less than a month and has seen just one MLS game in person. Yet that was enough to convince him he made the right move when he left France to join the Galaxy.

“I chose the best option,” said Coulibaly, a defender and former French youth international who played the last three seasons for Nancy in Ligue 2. “In the USA they have good training facilities, good staffs.

“In Europe people think the level is higher but for me, it’s not the truth. They don’t know. They don’t come here.”

Coulibaly did, and he could be rewarded with his MLS debut Saturday when the Galaxy (5-2-0) return from a three-week international break to face the unbeaten Seattle Sounders (5-0-3). The game will be the first since the coronavirus pandemic struck 15 months ago in which a capacity crowd will be allowed at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Coulibaly followed wingers Samuel Grandsir and Kévin Cabral, who have combined for 10 MLS appearances since arriving from France. Midfielder Rayan Raveloson, a Malagasy native who grew up on the French island of Réunion, is finishing his visa paperwork and expected to join the team next week.

For Galaxy coach Greg Vanney, the team’s French connection is more a sign of MLS maturity than French decline. While top-flight European talent has come to MLS before, the league has often been the place where they end their careers. But that’s not the case with this quartet. Coulibaly, who turned 25 last week, is the oldest of the four, who are all a long way from the finish line.

“That’s a huge statement for our league and for our club,” Vanney said.

“That the Galaxy is a club of choice for players who have the opportunity to potentially play in Europe, [that] they’ve chosen to come here to further their careers is really extraordinary.”

Timing played a big part in that since three of the four players had contracts that expired this season, meaning the Galaxy paid little or nothing in transfer fees. Then there was the devastating economic impact COVID-19 had on the soccer economy, especially in France.

“The big clubs, they can afford to spend. But we’re competing against the middle [clubs] and they can’t spend,” said Jovan Kirovski, the Galaxy’s technical director who scouted the players in France. “We’re getting value. We’re getting players that wouldn’t be available.”

Kevin Cabral, right, goes through a training drill with Séga Coulibaly
Kevin Cabral, right, goes through a training drill with Séga Coulibaly during a Galaxy workout.
(Robert Mora / LA Galaxy)

Vanney didn’t want just players though. After leaving Toronto to take the Galaxy job last winter, he pushed his new team to find players that would complement both his style of play and the culture he was trying to build in the dressing room.

“We looked in Argentina. We looked in Uruguay. We looked in a number of places,” Vanney said.

They eventually found what they were looking for in France, where Vanney spent four years as a player. The country has become an increasingly important target for MLS, which fielded a record 27 players in 2019, three of whom were on a Toronto team Vanney coached to the MLS Cup final.

“The French market is one of the hottest,” Kirovski said. “Some of the best talent in the world is developed in France now. Greg plays a different style than the previous coaches, so those kind of players fit the system and fit his philosophy.

“But it’s not about where they’re from. They just fit.”

Speedy wingers Grandsir, 24, and Cabral, 21, for example, will flank Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, creating room for the Galaxy striker to operate in the middle. Coulibaly provides Vanney with a physical center back while the 24-year-old Raveloson, when he arrives, will give the Galaxy the holding midfielder they lack, allowing captain Jonathan dos Santos to roam box to box and join the attack.

Séga Coulibaly laughs as he runs onto the Galaxy training pitch.
Séga Coulibaly laughs as he runs onto the Galaxy training pitch.
(Robert Mora / LA Galaxy)

For Vanney, the foursome’s youth and talent make them the foundation of what he’s trying to build, which is why all four were signed to multiyear deals, with Cabral’s stretching a club-record five seasons.

“We wanted to find players that were not quite in their prime just yet,” the coach said. “We could start to develop the group and bring the group together as they’re entering their prime, which should give us some stability.”

Sacha Kljestan, who speaks fluent French after playing five seasons in Belgium, has helped Vanney translate for his new teammates and said the three who are already here fit in quickly.

“They’re definitely enjoying living in California,” he said. “Off the field, even though they’re still in a hotel and not fully settled, I think they’re really enjoying just the weather and the lifestyle.”

As for what happens on the field, Kljestan said MLS is a step up from France’s second division, where all but Grandsir played this year.

“They’ve proven themselves in Ligue 2 and done really well,” Kljestan said. “Now this is the next step for them in furthering their career. This is the next challenge.”

One Coulibaly said he and his French teammates are embracing.

“I hope we’re going to do great things,” he said. “It was a big move. [But] I want to see other things. I want to improve as a player and as a man.”


Watch every Galaxy goal scored so far this season

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - APRIL 18: Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez #14 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez celebrates after scoring against Inter Miami FC on April 18.
(Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images)

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández leads the Galaxy in scoring, but various Galaxy players have delivered timely goals so far this season.

Click here to watch every Galaxy goal scored so far this season.