The Los Angeles Galaxy cruised to a 5-1 win over Central FC in its Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Group D opening match at StubHub Center Thursday night.
The hosts took it to the Trinidad and Tobago side early, creating good chances in the opening minutes.
After Ignacio Maganto missed a wide open header in the third minute, the more experienced high flyer Alan Gordon latched onto a header and drove it into the back of the net to put the Galaxy up 1-0 just four minutes in.
Central FC caught a lucky break the next minute when referee Christopher Reid called a controversial penalty on Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe. Rowe and Central FC striker Willis Plaza collided after Rowe narrowly beat Plaza to the ball, however, Reid whistled for a penalty. Centralâ€™s Ataullah Guerra stepped up to take the spot kick and buried it into the bottom right corner to level the score and give the Sharks a boost of momentum.
The Galaxy were upset by the call, but didnâ€™t lose their focus. They dominated play the rest of the way and regained the lead in the 32nd minute. The Central defense tried to play a high line to catch the Galaxy forwards offsides, but Raul Mendiola timed his run perfectly for Mika VÃ¤yrynenâ€™s ball over the top.
Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams came out to challenge Mendiola, but Mendiola used his speed to dribble around Williams and slotted it home to put LA up 2-1.
There was a scary moment four minutes later when Mendiola threatened to score again. Williams came out to challenge outside the box and was forced to crash into the smaller Mendiola. Mendiola was carted off with a potential head injury, but gave a reassuring thumbs up.
The Galaxy extended their lead in the 55th minute when Gordon drew a penalty call against Keion Goodridge, who barreled into Gordon in the box. Zardes rifled it to Williamsâ€™ left side to put LA up two goals to the good.
There was a buzz in the air at StubHub Center in anticipation of seeing Galaxy new boy Giovani dos Santos. The fans got to see the new LA star in the 57th minute when he came on for Gordon.
Just like he did for Villareal in 2013, dos Santos scored in his debut. He opened his Galaxy account in the 76th minute when Rafael GarcÃa whipped in a ground cross from the left side. Dos Santos was stationed perfectly in the box and calmly steered the ball with his left foot off the back post and into the back of the net.
Maganto finished the scoring in the 84th minute by making a run through the center and driving it past Williams to the bottom left corner.
The Galaxy will next face the Seattle Sounders at home on Sunday, and wonâ€™t see SCCL action until August 18 when they face Guatemalan side CSD Comunicaciones.