“If Messi scored a goal like that, people would be talking about it for weeks. It was an unbelievable goal”
CARSON, CA (BDCi Sports) —Inspired by the dazzling play of Emmanuel Boateng, the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1 in the first “knockout” round of the 2016 MLS Western Conference playoffs in front of 18,000 boisterous fans at the Stub Hub Center Wednesday evening.
Coming into the contest having scored only 2 goals in the entire 2016 season, forward Emmanuel Boateng equaled his season total on the big stage of a knockout playoff game, essentially taking the wind out of the Real Salt Lake sails in the first half of this match.
Before the Emmanuel Show, there was a punch-counter punch between these clubs. In the 14th minute, Landon Donovan drove down the right side and crossed to Giovani Dos Santos who surprised all the surrounding RSL defenders by volleying the ball behind him to a wide open Alan Gordon who closed with an easy tap into the wide open net. The Galaxy didn’t enjoy the lead for very long because five minutes later Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales went down in the penalty area due to contact with, of all people, Emmanuel Boateng. The referee there called a penalty, but the replay showed very little contact which brought anger from the crowd and a certain Mr. Boateng. Real Salt Lake’s leading scorer, Joao Plata of Ecuador easily converted the penalty for the equalizer.
DON’T PLAY MESSY, PLAY LIKE MESSI
Then the game’s destiny fell onto the feet of the 22 year-old from Ghana, Emmanuel Boateng. In the 26th minute, Boateng took a pass from Gordon beyond the area and was surrounded by 4-5 defenders. Using a quickness not seen in these parts for a long time, he unbelievably rocketed forward and through an open lane and fired a ground shot past the shocked RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
That was not Boateng’s final act. In the 34th minute, he found isolation on the right side and blew by RSL defender Justen Glad, fooling Rimando again with a shot wide left and inside the far left post. The 3-1 tally at that point would be the final score of the game, and the club from Utah would be packing it up for the 2016 season.
The game was refreshing for the Galaxy because they received solid defense from their back 4, especially Jelle Van Damme. They also got to see Robbie Keane in action for the first time in a couple months. But the night belonged to Boateng who even though only 5′ 6″ played like a giant for his club on this cool autumn night.
“If Messi scored a goal like that, people would be talking about it for weeks. It was an unbelievable goal,” midfielder Landon Donovan said. “The second goal was just as good in some ways. Guys have been telling me since I’ve been back that he has that in him… he was terrific, and we need him to play like that.”
Galaxy boss Bruce Arena agreed, “Obviously he had a very good game. I think he had two great goals. He really didn’t foul the player on the penalty kick, which was unfortunate. I think it got him a little angry, but I think he made up for it for sure. We’ve been looking for him to break out a little bit and he did today. He had a great game.”
With the win Wednesday night, the five-time MLS Cup champion Galaxy advance to the two-leg Western Conference semifinals against Colorado beginning Sunday at StubHub Center. The opener will be held at a time to be determined.