Chicharito’s PK saved again: Will LA Galaxy pay the price?
Another match, another Chicharito penalty kick. And another miss from the LA Galaxy star.
A week after the stoppage-time Panenka heard round the world, which would have secured a hat trick and three points for the Galaxy against Sporting Kansas City (2-2 home draw), Mexico’s all-time leading scorer stepped to the spot again Saturday after being knocked over in the box by Shaq Moore during the second half of a 1-1 draw at Nashville SC.
But Chicharito squandered a chance to equalize at GEODIS PARK, his low shot pushed aside by a diving Joe Willis in the 55th minute. The captain’s blunder kept the score at 1-0 after Hany Mukhtar’s own PK gave the hosts a first-half lead.
“It wasn’t a horrible shot,” Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said postgame. “He put it in a decent spot, ‘keeper was all over it in terms of his guess and going hard and got a hand on it. At least that’s what I saw from my perspective.”
Vanney had no problem with Chicharito’s decision to take the critical penalty.
“There are guys who are comfortable stepping up and taking the PK. Javi is our goal scorer. He wanted to step up,” he said. “I’m sure he felt that he wanted to bury it after the last match and the decision that was made.”
PK SAVE: Joe Willis, Nashville SC – 55th minute
Puig steps up
After that miss, Chicharito’s second in as many games, there was yet another chance for him to shoot from 12 yards out deep into second-half stoppage time.
But LA’s new star, former FC Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig, quickly grabbed the ball after Video Review awarded a PK following Walker Zimmerman’s handball on Chicharito’s shot, a play for which the US international was sent off via a second yellow card.
The 23-year-old Spaniard, signed just over a month ago, made no mistake in the 99th minute. He drilled his effort past Willis and secured a vital road point for LA – a third straight draw for the Gs.
PK GOAL: Riqui Puig, LA Galaxy – 99th minute
The whole ordeal emphasized the latest failed PK conversion from Chicharito, a player who has more than any other MLS player since he joined the league in 2020.
Chicharito is now 4-of-9 on PK attempts since joining the Galaxy in 2020 as a Designated Player and 16-of-31 for his club and country career, with previous stops across Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and more.
That said, Vanney isn’t ruling him out for future PK attempts.
“In terms of how we manage them going forward, that will be determined as we continue to move forward,” Vanney said.
Chicharito’s missed PKs are coming at a crucial time for the Galaxy, with the club looking to clinch an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs berth.
LA are in eighth place in the Western Conference table, three points below the playoff line with five matches remaining, but have a game in hand on both sixth-place Minnesota United FC and seventh-place Real Salt Lake.
The Galaxy, a record five-time MLS Cup champions, have made the playoffs once (2019) in the last five years, not since former superstar and now-AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was in Hollywood.