Los Angeles Galaxy Begin Preseason With Convincing Victory Over FC Shirak
Photo: LA Galaxy/Robert Mora

Jose Villarreal scored both goals for the Los Angeles Galaxy in their first preseason match of 2016 as they defeated Armenian outfit FC Shirak by a score of 2-1 with Viulen Ayvazywan scoring for the visitors. 

Action packed first half saw no goals

In the opening minute of the match Shirak went on the counter and played a couple of nice short passes to get out into space. The cross from Edgar Malakyan was poor and floated out for a goal kick but that was a good start from the visitors, showing their quality in tight areas. Giovani dos Santos tried to feed Robbie Keane at the top of the 18 but it was cut out by a Shirak defender. 

Odilion Konan Kouakou had the first attempt on target of the night, coming in the seventh minute, but it was weak and Dan Kennedy was able to keep it from going behind him. dos Santos with another ball in towards Keane who fails to control it as it trickles out for a corner.

Boateng got involved in his first bit of action when he whipped in a dangerous cross in towards the six yard box, yet, somehow it evaded everyone. The Galaxy regained possession and an Alan Gordon header hit the outside of the left post and bounced away from the goal three minutes after the half hour mark. Dan Kennedy did not have much to do during the opening half but he had to come off his line to smother a ball that was destined to find the run of Drissa Diarrassouba inside the box with five minutes to go in the half. 

Giovanni dos Santos in action with the Galaxy. | Photo: LA Galaxy/Robert Mora
Giovanni dos Santos in action with the Galaxy. | Photo: LA Galaxy/Robert Mora

Keane had the best opportunity of the first half, splitting the Shirak central defenders before he tried to place one behind Norayr Abrahmyan. Unfortunately, his shot hit the inside of the post and back out. David Romney then played a horrible back pass that Robert Darbinyan was able to latch onto. The ensuing effort though fell for a throw-in in an abysmal attempt on target.

There was finally a breakthrough in the match, seven minutes into the second half when the Los Angeles Galaxy broke the deadlock. Oscar Sorto hit a first-time cross into the penalty area and the Shirak defense fell asleep. 22-year-old Jose Villarreal stepped up to meet the delivery and smashed his effort past Abrahmyan.

Gor Malakyan looked for the overlap of Aghvan Davoyan on the hour mark on the edge of the eighteen yard box.  In the 65th minute, Malakyan blasted his shot just over the top of the crossbar as Shirak was growing into the match. Diarrassouba also saw an effort hit the side netting moments later.

Shirak equalize but cannot hang on to tie

Shirak finally leveled the match with fifteen minutes remaining through Viulen Ayvazywan aided by a very ill-advised ball from Daniel Steres. Brian Rowe did get something on the incoming shot but ultimately, it was not enough to keep the goal from being scored.

Four minutes later, Villarreal completed his brace. A beautiful lofted pass from the byline found Villarreal who did not think twice before placing the ball in between the Shirak goalkeeper’s leg.

Ariel Lassiter nearly found a third goal for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 81st minute. He turned a Shirak defender wonderfully before showing a bit of skill to free up some space to hit his shot wide of the near post.

In the end, the Galaxy put up a good performance against a tough side who has won their league multiple times. Bruce Arena will be happy battling for the victory to start the new year.