Chicharito lifts Galaxy over MLS champs NYCFC

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored from the edge of the 6-yard box in the 90th minute as the LA Galaxy escaped with a 1-0 victory Sunday over visiting New York City FC in a season opener at Carson, Calif.

In their first regular-season game since winning last year’s MLS Cup title in a shootout with the Portland Timbers, NYCFC lost for the first time since Oct. 17 of last year, ending a nine-game unbeaten run.

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The game not only featured the defending league champion, it also included the team with the most championships in MLS history. The Galaxy have won five titles but have not been on top of the league at the end of a season since 2014.

Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond needed to make just one save, while NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson made five saves.

With the clock just past the 89th minute, Hernandez moved in toward goal after a pass from Raheem Edwards, cut back with his left foot to send defender Maxime Chanot sliding, then buried his right-footed shot past Johnson, just under the roof of the goal.

Hernandez finished tied for third in MLS with 17 goals in 21 games last season.

NYCFC’s defeat came just three days after advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 6-0 aggregate victory over Santos de Guapiles of Costa Rica.

Sunday’s game was NYCFC’s second consecutive in the Los Angeles area after they played host to Santos on Thursday at the home of LAFC, since a CONCACAF-approved venue was not available in the New York area.

The Galaxy victory came after star midfielders Jonathan Dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget departed in the offseason. Sunday’s game marked the Los Angeles debut of midfielder Douglas Costa from Brazil, who played the first 67 minutes.

The beleaguered Galaxy defense that allowed 54 goals last season held its first 2022 opponent without a goal after recording just one shutout in its last 13 home games last season.

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