The Galaxy played Saturday for the first time in four weeks and the team it used looked a lot different than the one it fielded in its last game a month ago.
Five of the players on coach Greg Vanney’s game-day roster weren’t on the team then. Two of them weren’t even in the country.
And what changed along with the roster was the result, with goals from Tyler Boyd, Riqui Puig and Billy Sharp giving the Galaxy a 3-0 win over the short-handed Chicago Fire, snapping a three-game losing streak before a home crowd announced at 19,762.
Vanney’s revamped starting lineup included center back Maya Yoshida, a former Japanese national team captain who signed a free-agent contract Aug. 3, and midfielder Edwin Cerrillo, acquired in a trade with FC Dallas on the same day. Sharp, a free-agent signing, and midfielder Michael Barrios, acquired in a trade with Colorado, came on late in the second half.
Vanney also wanted to use midfielder Diego Fagundez, also obtained in a trade, but the fourth official would not allow the substitution, apparently because of a mix-up with Fagundez’s uniform number
The Galaxy rescued their season with a similar makeover last summer, losing just one of their last 11 games to reach the postseason after adding midfielders Puig and Gastón Brugman and center back Martín Cáceres. But that climb was much easier since the team already was in playoff position when Cáceres, the last of the three, signed. Even with Saturday’s win, the Galaxy (6-10-7) remain 13th in the 14-team Western Conference table, seven points out of a playoff berth.
Boyd put the Galaxy in front in the 29th minute with his team-leading fifth goal, which came seconds after Chicago’s Gaston Gimenez was sent off, having drawn his second yellow card for a reckless foul on Douglas Costa. On the resulting free kick, Costa drove a low, left-footed shot into the box that Chicago’s Carlos Terán headed down, but the ball took one bounce to Boyd, who volleyed it in with a sweeping left-footed shot for this third goal in his last four MLS games.
Puig doubled the lead in the 72nd minute and Costa set up that one too, slipping a nifty pass to the Galaxy captain at the top of the box, and Puig one-timed the shot into the upper right corner for his fourth goal. Sharp, a former Premier League forward who didn’t obtain his necessary immigration paperwork until Friday, closed out the scoring with a penalty-kick goal in the 90th minute, 19 minutes into his MLS debut.
And the Galaxy could have had more after dominating the Fire (8-9-8), controlling the ball for nearly two-thirds of the 90 minutes while outshooting Chicago 19-12, putting nine of those on target.