The Galaxy held their final dress rehearsal of the winter Saturday before they start playing for keeps next weekend in Houston. And the team’s performance was just as inconclusive as the result, a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire that produced as many questions as answers.
Playing before an announced crowd of 12,783 on a rain-sodden field at Dignity Health Sports Park, the Galaxy were missing center back Daniel Steres and midfielder Jonathan dos Santos to injury for a third consecutive game, raising doubts about their availability for the opener. But outside back Emiliano Insúa made a physical debut, playing 78 minutes and proving he will be ready.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, the team’s biggest offseason signing, was an active presence again but also was frustrated again, going goalless for a fourth straight game. But winger Cristian Pavón, on loan from Argentina’s Boca Juniors, was spectacular and dangerous, suggesting he will be well worth whatever the Galaxy wind up spending on him.
However, if the Galaxy (3-1-1) remain a work in progress, they’re at least heading in the right direction.
“I think we’re ready. Physically we feel pretty good, which is one of the most important things at this stage of preseason,” said midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who scored the Galaxy’s only goal. “We’re still working on some things and figuring out what [coach] Guillermo [Barros Schelotto] has asked of us. We still probably aren’t going to be hitting our stride for a little while, which is normal in MLS. The most important thing is the later part of summer.”
Kljestan’s goal came in the 54th minute on a fluky play that saw him nudge in the final try of a four-shot sequence that also included attempts from Aleksandar Katai and Hernández, who wound up with an assist.
Sacha Kljestan scores the Galaxy’s only goal in their 1-1 preseason tie with the Chicago Fire at Dignity Health Sports Park on Feb. 22, 2020.
Michael Azira matched that for Chicago in the 84th minute after Galaxy defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Nick DePuy collided at the edge of the 18-yard box, taking themselves out of the play and leaving Azira with an easy finish inside the far post. The goal was the sixth the Galaxy allowed in five preseason games.
Nevertheless, Schelotto said he saw more to like than to question.
“I think we are ready,” he said. “So now we expect to play and to win, because that is the idea.”