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LA Galaxy reserves down Central FC; Giovani scores on debut

LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena felt he did not need star players Steven Gerrard or Robbie Keane to handle Trinidad and Tobago Pro League outfit, Central FC. And he was right.

Photo: LA Galaxy star Steven Gerrard. (Copyright ESPN)
Photo: LA Galaxy star Steven Gerrard.
(Copyright ESPN)

So, with Gerrard looking on from the stands, a largely second-string Galaxy outfit romped to a 5-1 win over the “Couva Sharks” in CONCACAF Champions League action at the Stubhub Centre in Los Angeles.

There was a touch of stardust, though, as Mexico star and former Barcelona attacker, Giovani Dos Santos, came off the bench to score on his debut for the Major League Soccer (MLS) team.

It was the Sharks’ first Champions League appearance and probably not quite what they hoped for from the glamour tie.

No LA Galaxy representative met the visitors at the airport—which would have been a tricky proposition anyway as Central got to Los Angeles in dribs and drabs—while the Pro League team was not allowed to train at the match venue at game time on the eve of the clash, as is customary.

KFC Munch Pack

And there was further evidence of the scant courtesy towards the guests at kick off as Arena, a former United States head coach, sent out a squad with only two regular first team players, Alan Gordon and Gyasi Zardes.

Photo: LA Galaxy and United States international forward Alan Gordon. (Copyright mlssoccer)
Photo: LA Galaxy and United States international forward Alan Gordon.
(Copyright mlssoccer)

Yet, even at half strength, Galaxy was still too much for a Central squad that was playing its first game of the season under a debutante coach, Ross Russell.

Spanish midfielder Ignacio Maganto should have put Galaxy ahead after just two minutes but wasted a free header off a left side cross. The Central defence was breached again in the fourth minute and, this time, Gordon headed home at the far post after a Zardes cross.

Remarkably, Central managed an equaliser, just two minutes later, although it owed much to a very generous call from Belize referee Christopher Reid.

Central striker Willis Plaza chased a pass into the opposing penalty area and Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe rushed across to get both hands on the ball. Reid pointed to the penalty spot, to the disgust of the hosts, and Ataulla Guerra stroked home an equaliser.

Central might have gone one better in the 18th minute as Plaza wriggled past two opponents but hit his left footer into the side netting from just outside the penalty box.

Photo: Central FC striker Willis Plaza (centre) prepares to drive past Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette (left) while defender Jibiri McDavid looks on in the 2015 Pro Bowl semifinal. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC striker Willis Plaza (centre) prepares to drive past Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette (left) while defender Jibiri McDavid looks on in the 2015 Pro Bowl semifinal.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

In truth, the Central backline never offered the stability necessary to put real pressure on the home team and it was only a matter of time before Galaxy restored their advantage.

Raul Mendiola, who was making his first start of the season, got their second goal in the 42nd minute as he ran on to a ball over the top and rounded Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams to tap home.

Mendiola did not like his next meeting with Williams as much as the “Soca Warriors” goalkeeper smashed the tiny Mexican out of his shoes while chasing a loose ball. The groggy Galaxy winger was immediately substituted in the 36th minute.

It did not stop Galaxy’s momentum though as Zardes extended their lead in the 55th minute off another debatable penalty—Keion Goodridge was harshly penalised after a bump on Gordon in the area.

Santos replaced Gordon in the 56th minute and that’s when the Sharks were really in trouble as the crowd responded emphatically and Galaxy went up a level.

Photo: Mexico star Giovani Dos Santos made his LA Galaxy debut against Central FC. (Copyright LA Galaxy)
Photo: Mexico star Giovani Dos Santos made his LA Galaxy debut against Central FC.
(Copyright LA Galaxy)

The gifted Mexican opened his Galaxy account in the 76th minute as he diverted a low cross past Williams at his far post. And Maganto closed off the score summary with a tidy finish in the 84th minute after an exchange of passes.

Worse, Central full back Kaydion Gabriel was stretchered off the field in stoppage time in obvious discomfort.

It completed another miserable week for the Pro League at CONCACAF level as, on Tuesday, DIRECTV W Connection were whipped 4-0 away to Santos Laguna.


LA Galaxy (4-4-2): 12.Brian Rowe (GK); 33.Dan Gargan, 27.Dave Romney, 21.Tommy Meyer, 25.Rafael Garcia; 15.Ignacio Maganto, 3.Mika Vayrynen, 34.Kenney Walker, 40.Raul Mendiola (17.Sebastian Lletget 39); 11.Gyasi Zardes (20.AJ De La Garza 80), 9.Alan Gordon (10.Giovani Dos Santos 56).

Unused substitutes: 31.Andrew Wolverton (GK), 4.Omar Gonzales, 14.Robbie Rogers, 19.Juninho.

Coach: Bruce Arena


Central FC (4-4-1-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK) (captain); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 12.Jamal Jack, 5.Akeem Benjamin, 3.Keion Goodridge; 7.Jason Marcano (19.Nathaniel Garcia 60), 2.Elton John, 8.Sean De Silva, 11.Darren Mitchell (24.Kevon Villaroel 69); 45.Ataulla Guerra; 33.Willis Plaza (6.Kerry Baptiste 73).

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 14.Nicholas Dillon, 17.Marcelle Francois,

Coach: Ross Russell


Referee: Christopher Reid (Belize)

Photo: Central FC captain Jan-Michael Williams enjoys a light moment during a 2014/15 Pro League outing against North East Stars. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC captain Jan-Michael Williams enjoys a light moment during a 2014/15 Pro League outing against North East Stars.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

CONCACAF Champions League

(Thu Aug 6)

LA Galaxy 5 (Alan Gordon 4, Raul Mendiola 42, Gyasi Zardes 56 pen, Giovani Dos Santos 76, Ignacio Maganto 84), Central FC 1 (Ataulla Guerra 6 pen) at Los Angeles;

(Tue Aug 4)

Santos Laguna 4 (Djaniny 41, 68, Jesus Escoboza  61, Luis Mendoza 90), W Connection 0 in Torreon, Mexico;


Upcoming fixtures

(Thu Aug 20)

Saprissa v W Connection, 10 pm, Costa Rica;

(Thu Aug 27)

Comunicaciones v Central FC, 10 pm, Guatemala.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. Hi Adrian Romain,

    In answer to your question, I think Terry Fenwick would have done a far better job. However, I think Central would probably have lost anyway.

  2. Well they was without the two most important folks on the team the most wining Coach Terry Fenwick and Marvin Oliver and that would have made a big difference I am a believer

  3. Last night showed terrible organization on and off the field of play I think it was a piss poor performance by Central FC standards the players there is way better than the La Galaxy 2 Nd string Team

  4. Lasana, it’s always someone else’s fault, others always have it better and if only we could pay that much?
    What about taking responsibility and demanding better instead of looking for an excuse?
    Examples to look at are Jamaica, Curaçao, Costa Rico, etc. Not negative give up before you start personalities but get up and go characters!

  5. And could you imagine that the assistant Coach of the army eh cannot be the head coach eh, because his rank is to low eh, so the present Coach is a Sgt and the assistant Coach maybe more qualified than him eh, hence the reason why I am always saying that our professional league really jokey yes. We need a real professional league in our sweet country and we shall definitely rise again. I am a believer. Them really good yes.

  6. But we are taking football.. We must get it right.. We get it wrong too often..

  7. Track and field and cricket we are decent enough at. Lasana you know me I’m a hard task master.. We can do better without question. Keshorn is very good and the 4×100 team are good. Richard Thompson got silver in the 100m some years ago but have fallen off. Keston Bledman needs to find his way to 9.7 to medal bit he is decent.. They need even more support. Imagine we have the brilliant Ato boldon and we don’t utilise him. Jokers, absolute jokers they are..

  8. I disagree that we are miles behind in sport eh Kelvin Jack. We are near the top of the world in track and field and we still produce world class athletes in cricket, for instance.
    And we used to produce top footballers too.
    It is wrong to think things were always this way. They were not. I’m afraid we just put our hands up and accept this nonsense.
    This is not magic. There are may practical things we did before that we can do now to improve our performances.

  9. And of course if Terry Fenwick was the coach of the team the results might have been different because coaching the Army team there is a different kind of discipline and I won’t be surprise if Coach Russell doesn’t last the season with Central . Them really good yes.

  10. Kevin Harrison, that’s exactly my point.. Trinidad and Tobago are miles behind in sports in general. Somehow we produce good natural athletes and are able to compete some days. The issue shouldn’t be money because there are lots of it. For heavens sake the powers that be steal enough of it! Trinidad and Tobago can have a much better professional league but government help in a big way is crucial. Government funds can nurse the league through it’s infancy stages while clubs build a fan base and identify income streams.. Steven Gerard being paid $6.3m a year means nothing.. Yes he is a good player but this same player was made to look ordinary by tactically good players from Costa Rica last year at the World Cup who earn much much less. As said before we are behind in the crucial aspects of the game. Until this is rectified we will only achieve one off results.

  11. The professional league needs to learn from it and really raise the standards of the professional league starting with all coaches need to have top coaching licence in order to coach the teams and they also need to start paying the winning team their monies in a timely fashion imagine W Connection is still being owed monies eh Them really good yes.

  12. Lasana Liburd, Kelvin Jack, great conversation. You both make good points. Central were poor last night. But this was Central’s first competitive game of the season! Aside from W.Connection, neither T&T team had anyone to play. All other Pro League clubs had not started pre season. Both T&T clubs struggled to even get to the games. CONCACAF give you US$40,000 to travel. It cost Central neraly TT$400,00 in flights alone. So there was no money to travel overseas for a camp to prepare. Galaxy are spending US$250,000 to charter a plane to come to T&T. Steven Gerrard is paid US$6.3 million per year. Thats more than the entire Pro League budget AND the TTFA budget! Central were second to every ball, every tackle. It was a hard lesson on and off the pitch, but they will learn from it and if we get a decent result in Guatemala, we can restore some pride.

  13. As I have always said if our professional league had the same resources as the teams in the MLS , real professional Coaches, salaries, supporters eh, home fields in our communities many more of our players would have been getting bigger contracts abroad hopefully things will change in the future.

  14. It’s not the best they could have done for sure.. But if Jamaica play the US ten times the US will probably win 6 or 7 with a couple draws and Jamaica win..In one off off games upsets happen.. Jamaica are improving rapidly though..

  15. Preparation. I agree. And sometimes that is just about doing the right things. You know that you could give the wrong people a blank cheque and they will still get nowhere.
    Trinidad and Tobago was outdoing that same Jamaica team two years ago. Preparation made the difference.
    Now if you look at Central’s preparation you will realise they shot themselves in the foot. The Pro League needs better showings from its representative clubs than that.
    Such results affect the momentum we get from the national team.

  16. Remember too that at the Gold Cup, every single Caribbean team got to the quarterfinal stage. Ahead of the likes of Honduras and Guatemala.
    Then Jamaica beat the United States who have infinitely more resources and a former Bayern Munich and Germany World Cup coach.
    Patrick Kluivert took over Curacao earlier this year and in months took them into the World Cup semifinal qualifying round ahead of Cuba.
    So I just can’t put my hands up and accept that was the best we can do. I know it was not.

  17. It’s not acceptable but it’s the reality.. It’s the consistency I just spoke about. Trinidad and Tobago did ok at the just concluded gold cup for instance.. But lacked consistency DURING the games.. Far too many errors.. It’s a process bro.. We are behind.. Consider this.. I watched a couple Jamaica games and they too are better than us.. Much more compact with and without the ball. One can clearly see they are preparing better than us. It went wrong for them in the final bit their relative inexperience, consistency and a better side for the better of them. We can improve but yes we need money. We have more than enough money for all sports it’s just we are useless at seeing the benefits of sports and it’s importance in society. Absolutely useless and clueless..

  18. What I’m saying is you don’t need a five million budget to work on things you mentioned there Kelvin. There was at least one player who never got on the field at LA Galaxy in three years that played 90 minutes last night.
    Maybe only one player on the entire Central FC starting team never played international football before.
    Do you think it acceptable Kelvin Jack that 10 former and present international players who all played together for at least a season should have the deficiencies you just mentioned?

  19. Lasana.. Tactical awareness/astuteness takes time.. More time than many realise. How tactical are the clubs in Trinidad? Not very.. Tactical astuteness requires patience and practice.Unless you encounter teams that force you to utilise your tactical ability you wouldn’t be able to produce good tactical awareness against superior opposition. Also, yes they are fitter because their league play at a higher tempo than ours. Due to this fact they will be able to make better decisions as the game goes on.. They are ahead fitness wise 100%. Talent.. That’s what god, your mom and dad gave you. Are they more talented than us? Yes.. In more areas of the game they are.. Hardwork, discipline and work ethic are talents. These are ingredients engrained into an individual.. They are superior at the moment.. Only patience , GOOD preparation and a big financial backing could close the gap.

  20. Not a jab at Ross Russell who just got there. Clearly Fenwick pointed out some administrative issues before that he felt were holding the team back.
    You have to do your best with what you have. And I don’t think they did. I thought Connection looked better organised. They were just outclassed against a top Mexican team.
    But Central was all over the place and relied a lot on individual ability and athleticism.

  21. But listen to your list though Kelvin Jack. You pointed out fitness, strength and tactical awareness. All those things can be done within a reasonable budget.
    That isn’t talent. We have to accept that we cannot sign a Giovani Dos Santos or Frank Lampard.
    But I see no reason why we shouldn’t expect players like Ataulla Guerra and Darren Mitchell to hold their own against fringe players who are nowhere close to international level in the US.
    That is preparation and game plan. I know we can’t expect to defeat them regularly.
    But you know a team from Romania with a fraction of the resources that Manchester United has will still be able to show that they play football too.

  22. Lasana.. I’m not sure people are realistic. The MLS is miles ahead of our professional league. I watch many games as they now televise them here in the UK. They are fitter, stronger and more tactically astute than our players: it’s a very big gap. I think many are duped because we did ok at the Gold Cup. The gap is wide people.. Trust me on this. We are capable of winning one off games but consistency is the name of the game. Preparation is key; good preparation that is. It’s a long process which requires patience and huge financial backing.

  23. Let me ask a question do you think Terence William Fenwick would of done a better job last night ?

  24. Painful viewing. But I don’t think Central was prepared properly for that match.

  25. Well yes imagine our professional team cannot even beat up a reserve real professional team . Them really good yes.

  26. Central FC look like a fete match team , Simple marking details the players couldn’t follow , they look far from a professional team

  27. Hard luck Central FC but why doesn’t the TTFA start our Pro League to coincide with the CONCACAF Champions League? These teams need match practice.