MLS

MLS: Chicharito inspires Galaxy in El Trafico, Nani stays hot for Orlando

By Sports Desk May 08, 2021

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored and set up another as LA Galaxy earned bragging rights against Los Angeles FC in El Trafico.

In the first Los Angeles derby fixture of the MLS season, former Manchester United and Real Madrid star Chicharito guided the Galaxy to a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Chicharito, who attempted just one shot in the loss to Seattle Sounders last time out, the sixth time in 10 MLS starts he has taken fewer than two shots (60 per cent) – he attempted fewer than two shots in just 36.7 per cent of his starts in the five major European leagues – improved his league-best tally to six goals with the 11th-minute opener at Dignity Health Sports Park, where he tucked the ball past Pablo Sisniega.

LAFC restored parity 28 minutes from the end when Diego Rossi equalised following some combination play between team-mates Latif Blessing and Corey Baird.

But the Galaxy walked away with maximum points after Chicharito teed up Jonathan dos Santos for the 79th-minute winner.

The Galaxy are second in the Western Conference, level on points with leaders San Jose Earthquakes, while LAFC are four points off the pace in eighth position.

Orlando City captain Nani stayed hot with another goal in the club's 1-1 draw against New York City.

Ex-United winger and Premier League champion Nani scored another memorable goal seven minutes into the second half, finding the back of the net with a stunning effort from the edge of the penalty area.

Nani's third goal in three games had Orlando on track for maximum points until a 77th-minute penalty via Valentin Castellanos salvaged a draw for the visitors.

"I've been working so hard and been focused on my games," Nani said post-match. "I think this is a reward [for] what you do during the week, the preparation into the games."

New York top the Eastern Conference on seven points, level with New England Revolution but a point clear of Orlando, New York Red Bulls and Nashville.

The Revolution lost 2-0 against Nashville, while the Red Bulls ran out 2-0 winners over Toronto.

Elsewhere, defending champions Columbus Crew defeated DC United 3-1, last season's Supporters' Shield winners Philadelphia Union topped Chicago Fire 2-0, Vancouver Whitecaps beat Montreal Impact by the same scoreline, Dallas and Houston Dynamo drew 1-1, while Colorado Rapids edged Minnesota United 3-2.

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    Carlo Ancelotti does not believe he deserves credit for Vinicius Junior's improvement, while the Real Madrid coach is backing Eden Hazard to find his best level again this season.

    Karim Benzema has undoubtedly been Madrid's standout player this season, with the Frenchman's 19 goal involvements across all competitions bettered by only Mohamed Salah (20) in Europe's top five leagues, but Vinicius' form has also provided a real positive.

    In each of his previous three seasons at Madrid, Vinicius had underperformed in relation to his expected goals (xG) value, backing up the idea he was wasteful and lacked the ability to be decisive.

    This season, however, Vinicius has seven goals across all competitions from an xG value of 5.2, suggesting he is proving more reliable when presented with chances and also sniffing out greater opportunities in the first place.

    With 10 goal involvements, Vinicius has already reached his total from last season and is just two behind his personal best of 12 for an entire campaign (2018-19).

    Many have praised Ancelotti's influence for this, but the Italian insists he has not done "anything special".

    "What I like the most is that he tries," Ancelotti told reporters ahead of Wednesday's clash with Osasuna. "He tries, whenever he can, and he does it with intensity.

    "Regardless of quality, he works a lot. He has to improve without the ball, but he's humble, and he likes to work.

    "What I do is work on motivation and less on the offensive aspect of his game, where I leave a lot to creativity. What stands out is his creativity with the ball.

    "He is focused as a player. He's young, and at times he loses concentration with the fans – I tell him that he has to focus on the game and not on the surroundings.

    "It is not a father-son relationship, I already have two children! It is the relationship you want to have with all the players. I try to keep him motivated, focused, but I don't do anything special."

     

    On the other hand, one Madrid wide player who is not thriving currently is Eden Hazard.

    The Belgium forward's Madrid career has been devastated by injuries so far and, although he has mostly stayed fit this season, he has a lot of work on his hands to convince Ancelotti.

    Hazard has made four LaLiga starts this term, but none of those have come in the past month, and he was an unused substitute for the weekend's Clasico win over Barcelona.

    Ancelotti insists the former Chelsea star can get back to his best, however.

    Asked if Hazard still had "star status", the coach replied: "He does not have this status because he has had many injuries. Little by little, he will have his best version.

    "I am sure that this season we will see his best version and that he will play more than he is doing now. Hazard has it, everything: quality, motivation... He just has to wait. What happens is that sometimes the coach prefers other players.

    "He can play 4-3-3 on the left, or 4-4-2 he can play wide, or behind the striker. He is ready to play, but the problem is that there is a coach who is betting on other players."

    Gareth Bale will increase the competition for Hazard when he returns, though the Wales winger is still a couple of weeks away from making his comeback, as Ancelotti has earmarked the visit of Rayo Vallecano on November 6.

    "Gareth Bale was discharged yesterday and I think that in a week he will be able to train with the team," Ancelotti said. "Maybe he can be involved against Rayo Vallecano."

  • Ancelotti hits out Barca fans who showed Koeman 'a lack of respect' Ancelotti hits out Barca fans who showed Koeman 'a lack of respect'

    Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has criticised a group of Barcelona supporters who mobbed Ronald Koeman's car after Sunday's Clasico.

    Ancelotti claimed his first managerial victory at Camp Nou on Sunday, as goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez secured a 2-1 victory. 

    Struggling Barca boss Koeman was then subjected to unsavoury scenes as he left the ground, with the Dutchman's vehicle surrounded by fans as he attempted to depart.

    Barca released a statement to condemn those actions and in his news conference on Tuesday, Koeman suggested the incident reflected wider problems in society.

    Ancelotti, who Koeman also revealed offered his support, echoed his counterpart's sentiment.

    "It is a lack of respect for the person, not for the coach. Koeman is not a coach, he is a person who works as a coach," Ancelotti told the media ahead of Madrid's LaLiga meeting with Osasuna on Wednesday.

    "It is not a problem of football, but of society, of rudeness.

    "A friend who is also a coach told me that the best life for a coach is when there are no games. It is a beautiful life, we like to train. Criticism is normal, but disrespect is annoying on a personal level.

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    Despite the victory, some sections of Madrid's support were seemingly unhappy with how Los Blancos played at Camp Nou.

    Barca shaded the possession (51.6 per cent) and had more shots (12) than Madrid's 10, though the hosts only managed to get two on target - one of those being Sergio Aguero's last-gasp consolation - and were constantly exposed on the counter-attack.

    "I understand the criticism because everyone can have an opinion," reflected Ancelotti.

    "I said that we had not played perfectly, but that we played a smart game, which was what we had asked for."

    Ancelotti has not lost as Madrid coach against Osasuna in all competitions (W3 D1), though Wednesday's match will not be simple, with Jagoba Arrasate's side sitting in sixth, just two points back from Los Blancos.

    "Osasuna are a good team that play intense football, that defend well," Ancelotti said. "They are dangerous and their [league position] speaks clearly. It will be a difficult game."

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