Los Angeles Soccer: Raul Mendiola
Then a tęte-ā-tęte on the flank saw Seattle midfielder Christian Sivebaek sent off, and the insertion of three of their brightest young players sparked some life into the Galaxy attack. Reward arrived at the end, with rookie Rafael Garcia's diving header in the 90th minute delivering a 1-0 triumph on Home Depot Center's University Field 1.
The triumph offered a tantalizing glimpse at L.A.'s future, with Garcia -- a former Canoga Park High star taken out of Cal State Northridge in January's supplemental draft -- Home Grown Player Jose Villarreal (Inglewood/Leuzinger HS) and Academy standout Raul Mendiola (San Bernardino/Rialto HS) skillfully carving open the Sounders to create a flurry of chances before the goal arrived.
The Galaxy is high on all three. Assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who guides the reserve side, spoke about each in his postgame scrum with reporters.
- On Mendiola: “He's got great instincts going forward. He reminds me a little of [2010 MLS Rookie of the Year] Andy Najar, when I was [head coach] in D.C. Guys like that, you've got to let them play with their instincts and just create things, and that's certainly what he did when he came into the game.”
- On Villarreal: “Instinctally, he's very, very good, very comfortable on the ball. He's got to continue to develop to the speed of play, and when they do that consistently, that's when you see more success.
- On Garcia: “I love him, I have to say. I’ve always liked him. I loved him in college and was just glad we got him. Sometimes it’s difficult for me and for him, because we’ve got other guys who need to get minutes. Today [Marcelo] Sarvas needed minutes, which meant [Garcia] was coming off the bench. He deserves to be on the field. My message to him was to make the most of your opportunity. Sometimes playing 30 minutes is more important than playing 90, and certainly that was the case today.”
Villarreal, who returned a couple of weeks ago following preseason leg surgery, came on in the 70th, moments after Sivebaek was red-carded for a retalitary foul on rookie left back Bryan Gaul, and provided instant offense, forcing Sounders goalkeeper Bryan Meredith to make a diving save in the 75th, then forcing a tough stop about a minute later, with Kenney Walker's rebound deflecting past the post.
CARSON -- Chivas USA's offensive problems, Robin Fraser believes, come down to mindset. The Goats need players willing to “go for it” if they're going to score goals and win games.
Cesar Romero has a message for Fraser: He can be that guy.
The first-year forward from San Diego scored a second-half hat trick Monday to lead Chivas past the Galaxy, 4-2, in an MLS Reserve League opener on L.A.'s training field at Home Depot Center, and after humbly noting that it “feels very good to win” and that he needs to “keep working hard to win my spot, try to win my time,” a little of his swagger crept through.
“When I'm coming into the game, in my head I'm like, 'When I'm going to score?' ” Romero said. “And if I get a chance, in my head, you know what? It's going to be in the back of the net. That's my confidence.”
He sparked the Goats to a 3-0 lead, crossing for Miller Bolaņos' header in the 54th minute, finishing from Bolaņos' feed five minutes later, then volleying a Blair Gavin cross in the 64th. He scored his third in the 86th after Chad Barrett had pulled two back for L.A.
“Cesar, he's a dangerous player,” Fraser said. “He makes good runs in behind, and if he continues to do that, I think he'll score goals in this league.”
Chivas (1-3-0) could use goals. They've scored just one (from just eight real chances) in their first four Major League Soccer outings, wasting outstanding defensive performances in three 1-0 losses.
“Are we producing enough opportunities? Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Fraser said. “But a little bit of it, I think, is a shift in our mindset. To create goalscoring chances, you've got to just go, you've got to go for it. And I felt like today we did a decent job of that. We did a decent job of looking to play in behind, guys running in behind, and we have talented players. So we put ourselves into position where we can make plays, where we can make half-opportunities into whole opportunities.
“So I think the lesson to be learned for us is we've talked about being aggressive -- for a long time we've talked about it -- but really when you see it in practice and you just go for it, you just create more chances and you have to be willing to do it.”