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Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace pushes LA Galaxy to July 4 victory: What we learned

Youth was served in the LA Galaxy’s 2-0 Fourth of July win over Toronto FC

CARSON — The LA Galaxy defeated Toronto FC, 2-0, in their 24th annual Fourth of July match, with both goals from star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Here’s what we learned from the match:

Efrain Alvarez earns his first start

Midfielder Efrain Alvarez made six appearances before earning his first MLS start in this match. The 17-year-old’s involvement in the team has grown, especially with absences from regular starters opening space for him to make an impact. In the team’s last match against San Jose, Alvarez played the entire second half after Sebastian Lletget left due to injury. Even though the Galaxy lost, Alvarez put in a performance that earned him the nod against Toronto.

“When we organized the team, we saw him really well in the second half against San Jose,” Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “So, after the game we were talking at the table, and we said he needs to play in the next game. I think the best thing I could see about him was that he always tries to get the ball and do something with it.” 

Youth gaining experience

Julian Araujo was the other 17-year-old who was in the Galaxy starting XI against Toronto FC. In giving the younger players valuable experience in MLS play, Schelotto is setting himself up to have more experienced players once the schedule gets more hectic. 

“Today, we had a lot of young players on the field,” Schelotto said. “So, we can’t tell them ‘you have to play like this, or you have to play like that,’ because they need to make mistakes, and sometimes they will make good decisions. But, with young players, sometimes it’s difficult to keep the line, always going up and going down. So, in this case, I prefer for Julian [Araujo] or for Efrain [Alvarez] to play well and get confidence for the future, step by step and not put the system over them.”

The confidence shown by Schelotto translates to increased confidence in the players themselves. 

“It’s a blessing, obviously, being a young guy and getting starts,” Araujo said. “Knowing that the coach has trust in not only me, but the other young guys, there is not much more you can ask for.”

Defensive stronghold despite line up changes

David Bingham earned his seventh shutout of the year, slotting him at third best in MLS in that regard. The Galaxy is second best in the West and fifth overall in goals against.  This is quite the feat when taking into account the rotating line up defensively so far this year for the Galaxy, and that the defense was the main issue the team faced last season. 

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