Gal­axy shows progress with win

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - GAL­AXY 5 PHILADEL­PHIA1 By Steve Gal­luzzo

The sec­ond half of the sea­son be­gan Satur­day night, and the Gal­axy looked more like the reign­ing MLS Cup cham­pi­ons and less like the in­jury-rid­dled team that had posted an even record in its first17 games.

Get­ting health­ier by the week, the Gal­axy showed what could be in store for the next sev­eral­months, scor­ing two goals in the first half and three more in the sec­ond, giv­ing the bois­ter­ous crowd of 23,875 plenty to cheer about in a 5-1 tri­umph over the Philadelphia Union at Stub Hub Cen­ter.

“We’ve been able to keep our heads above wa­ter, and this is the time for us to start get­ting re­sults,” Coach Bruce Arena said. “We’re right in the mid­dle of the pack, not too far be­hind and hope­fully po­si­tioned well for the sec­ond half.”

Philadelphia dom­i­nated the first10 min­utes, but af­ter de­fender A.J. De­La­Garza was yel­low-carded for pulling down C.J. Sapong out­side the penalty area, for­ward Gyasi Zardes banged a shot off the left post.

The ball de­flected di­rectly to midfielder Bag­gio Hu­sidic, who stuffed home the re­bound to open the scor­ing in the 23rd minute.

Twelve min­utes later, Zardes and Hu­sidic were cred­ited with as­sists on a goal by midfielder Jun­inho, who cel­e­brated with a pair of back­flips as con­fetti rained down from the stands.

“The score does not in­di­cate the game cor­rectly,” Arena said. “We weren’t as dom­i­nant as it might have looked. We were sloppy at times.

“We were able to fin­ish some goals, but it was far from a com­plete vic­tory. We can play a lot bet­ter.”

Satur­day marked the first of four home games in a five-game span, and that’s good news for a team that has lost only once in Car­son since the start of the 2014 sea­son. The Gal­axy (6-5-7) be­gan the game fourth in the Western Con­fer­ence, but with cap­tain Rob­bie Keane re­cov­ered fromthe groin in­jury that kept him side­lined for most of the sea­son’s first half and left back Rob­bie Rogers’ re­turn from leg and an­kle in­juries, the Gal­axy seem poised to re­peat what they did two years ago when they went 7-7-3 in their first17 games but re­bounded to earn a play­off spot.

Keane, who scored three times in the Gal­axy’s 6-1 vic­tory over PSA Elite in a U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match Wed­nes­day, lofted a per­fectly placed ball onto the foot of Zardes, who one­timed it past Philadelphia goal­keeper Brian Sylvestre to give the Gal­axy a 3-0 lead in the 56th minute.

Three min­utes later, Ste­fan Ishizaki half-volleyed a header from de­fender Omar Gon­za­lez into the cor­ner of the net tomake it 4-1.

In the 65th minute, Se­bas­tian Llet get scored off a pass from Zardes and the rout was on. Ishizaki tal­lied again in the 78th minute, but the play was ruled off­side and the goal dis­al­lowed.

“We didn’t re­ally get into the game un­til we scored our first goal,” Arena said. “Bag­gio is a very good player who made an im­pact. Zardes had two as­sists and a great goal on a ball from Keane.”

Philadelphia (4-10-3) avoided the shutout on a goal by Sapong in the 58th minute.

“When we put our minds to­gether, we work re­ally hard for each other,” Ishizaki said. “That makes us a team that’s re­ally, re­ally hard to beat Things are start­ing to look up for us.”

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