MLS

MLS: Chicharito brace sinks Beckham's Inter Miami, defending champs Crew share points

By Sports Desk April 18, 2021

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez started the MLS season with a bang, scoring twice as LA Galaxy spoiled Phil Neville's Inter Miami debut in a 3-2 victory.

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Chicharito endured a difficult and injury-plagued 2020 season, Mexico's all-time leading goalscorer netting just twice after joining the Galaxy.

But Chicharito kicked off his redemption season in style – his two-goal second half sinking David Beckham's Inter Miami in Sunday's season opener.

"I'm holding [back] my tears. I suffered the loss of my grandfather, I would love him to keep watching [me] scoring goals," Chicharito said. "I'm very touched because, like I told you, last year was very difficult.

"I miss him so much and these goals are for him, my kids, my whole family, my friends, everyone. I maintain patience, I keep grinding and thankfully things are coming around and hopefully, like I say, I just want to be a part of an unbelievable season and lift the trophy."

Trailing to Robbie Robinson's opening goal in first-half stoppage time, Chicharito equalised just past the hour mark in front of a sell-out crowd in Miami.

Former Juventus and Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain restored Inter Miami's lead in the 68th minute – just his second goal for the club since arriving in the United States.

It had ex-United utility and former England women's boss Neville dreaming of a dream start in Miami, where he replaced Diego Alonso as head coach ahead of the 2021 season.

But Chicharito levelled proceedings again with a trademark header 17 minutes from the end before Sacha Kljestan put the Galaxy in front in the 81st minute.

Elsewhere, reigning champions Columbus Crew drew 0-0 against Supporters' Shield holders Philadelphia Union, while Vancouver Whitecaps edged Portland Timbers 1-0.

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    The Galaxy's six-match unbeaten streak ended before the mid-season break, with the Chicago Fire coming from behind to beat them 2-1.

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    He said: "This is a good team. The issue last year, which was different, was for the longest time, I had to be the one to tell them that. Our win over [Colorado] should reinforce that message that they're good. When they want to play, they can play."

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    LA Galaxy – Riqui Puig

    Puig has found the net in three consecutive appearances for the Galaxy for the first time in his MLS career. The Spaniard has been involved in seven goals since the beginning of May with only four players in MLS involved in more in that time.

    Sporting Kansas City – Johnny Russell

    Russell scored his seventh career regular-season goal against Seattle Sounders in the win on Saturday, his most against any opponent, breaking a tie with three other teams against whom he has scored six times, including the Galaxy.

    MATCH PREDICTION: LA GALAXY WIN

    The Galaxy ended a six-match winless run against Kansas City (D3 L3) with a 3-2 road win on March 24. The win was just the Galaxy's third in their last 17 matches against Sporting dating back to October 2015 (D7 L7).

    LA have lost only one of their last 17 regular-season home matches (W8 D8), including winning four of their last five in Carson (D1). The 17 matches in that run have seen a total of 67 goals for an average of 3.9 per match.

    Meanwhile, Kansas City ended a seven-match losing streak with a 2-1 victory over Seattle on Saturday. Sporting came from 1-0 down in the match as they have gone behind in 10 straight league matches dating back to mid-April.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    LA Galaxy – 53.5%

    Draw – 23.8%

    Sporting Kansas City – 22.7%

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    MATCH PREDICTION – LOS ANGELES FC WIN

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    Orlando are winless in their last five home matches, drawing two and losing three while failing to net in each of their last three – they had only previously gone three home matches without netting in their second, third and fourth home MLS games back in 2015.

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Orlando City – 37.7%

    Los Angeles FC – 35.9%  

    Draw – 26.4%

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