By Tim Peterson
(Carson)- The LA Galaxy began the 2015 MLS season the same way they ended the 2014 campaign-with a victory. The Galaxy put on a dominating performance, scoring twice in second half to beat the Chicago Fire 2-0 Friday night before a sold out crowd of 27, 000 at StubHub Center in the MLS opener.
The Galaxy was in the Fire zone seemingly the entire night. They had possession of the ball 57.1 % compared to 42.9 for Chicago in the first half. They outshot the Fire 7-2 and just missed on several opportunities. Gyasi Zardes missed a pass as he slipped at point blank range. Stefan Ishizaki missed an overhead kick and Jose Villarreal missed high on a center shot and the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
“In the first half I thought we played well, especially the last ten minutes. I just knew it was a matter of time of time before we came through,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.
They did come through in the second half. Jose Villarreal scored in the 65th minute taking advantage of some poor Fire defense. He was left all alone near the front of the net and fired one inside the left post. Later in the half, in the 81st minute the reigning MVP Robbie Keane got in the scoring column with a blast by Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson for a 2-0 lead.
Chicago never really threatened. Brian Rowe started in goal instead of Jaime Pinedo and turned in a solid performance. He turned away eight Chicago shots on goal in the shutout. The Galaxy had possession for over 53 percent of the contest and had 13 shots to the Fire’s eight.
Villarreal was with the Galaxy last year but was loaned out to another team it never worked out. “2014 was kind of a wasted year for him. It didn’t help him to leave. But he’s a good player. He got the winning goal tonight. He played well,” Arena said.
Arena was also happy with the defense. “This is an experienced group that has played together for awhile,” Arena said.
In addition to Rowe and Villarreal the Galaxy also got quality minutes from Kenney Walker who got the start. Ishizaki put a lot of pressure on the Chicago defense in the first half.
“Ishizaki is a lot more comfortable now. He’s in his second year,” Arena added.
Three additional minutes were added at the end of regulation but the Galaxy preserved the shutout.
Next up for the Galaxy is date at Portland next Sunday. Their next home game is March 21 against Houston.