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LA Galaxy Earn 1-1 Draw Against Inter Miami CF Before Regular-Season Record Attendance of 27,642 Fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday Night

February 26, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
LA Galaxy News Release


LOS ANGELES - Playing in their 2024 MLS Regular Season Home Opener, the LA Galaxy earned a 1-1 draw against Inter Miami CF before a new regular-season record attendance of 27,642 fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night.

LA Galaxy Regular-Season Attendance Record at DHSP

The 27,642 fans in attendance for the Galaxy's match against Miami at Dignity Health Sports Park marked a new facility record. The previous regular-season attendance record for an LA Galaxy match at Dignity Health Sports Park was 27,244 when the club hosted Seattle Sounders FC on Oct. 19, 2014. The largest attendance ever for an LA Galaxy match at Dignity Health Sports Park was when 30,510 fans watched the LA Galaxy 3-1 victory over Houston Dynamo FC at MLS Cup on Dec. 1, 2012.

Debuts Galore

Six LA Galaxy players made their debut for the club in the draw against Miami. Goalkeeper John McCarthy, defender Miki Yamane and forward Joseph Paintsil each started in their debuts, while defender John Nelson and forwards Miguel Berry and Gabriel Pec each appeared in their debuts as second-half substitutes.

LA Against Miami

Sunday's match between the Galaxy and Inter Miami marked the second-ever meeting between the two clubs, with the Galaxy improving to 1-0-1. In the first regular-season meeting between LA and Miami, the Galaxy earned a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Chase Stadium on April 18, 2021.

Goal-Scoring Plays

LA - Dejan Joveljić (Mark Delgado), 75th minute: Joseph Paintsil dribbled down the left flank on a counter-attacking play and fed the ball to Riqui Puig, whose shot from the top of the 18-yard box was parried aside by Drake Callendar. The rebound fell to Mark Delgado, whose square ball across the face of goal was finished by Dejan Joveljić

MIA - Lionel Messi (Jordi Alba), 90+2 minute: Jordi Alba was released down the left flank by Lionel Messi. Alba quickly played a centering pass into the middle of the penalty area to Lionel Messi, whose sliding shot was fired into the top left corner.

Postgame Notes

The 27,642 fans in attendance for the LA Galaxy's regular season match against Inter Miami CF at Dignity Health Sports Park marked a new facility record.

The previous regular-season attendance record for an LA Galaxy match at Dignity Health Sports Park was 27,244 (LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders - Oct. 19, 2014).

The LA Galaxy's home-opening match against Inter Miami CF marked the first-ever meeting between the two clubs at Dignity Health Sports Park and the third all-time matchup in league play. In the first regular-season meeting between LA and Miami, the Galaxy earned a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Chase Stadium on April 18, 2021.

Six LA Galaxy players made their debut for the club in the draw against Miami.

Goalkeeper John McCarthy, defender Miki Yamane and forward Joseph Paintsil each started in their debuts, while defender John Nelson and forwards Miguel Berry and Gabriel Pec each appeared in their debuts as second-half substitutes.

Dejan Joveljić recorded his first goal for the Galaxy during the 2024 campaign.

Joveljić has now scored in consecutive regular-season openers, after scoring the first goal of the 2023 campaign for LA against FC Dallas on March 4, 2023.

In his debut for the club, Joseph Paintsil finished the match with a game-high nine duels won, six fouls won and three successful dribbles and a team-high seven shots.

Riqui Puig finished the match with a game-high six chances created, eight possessions won and four interceptions and won four fouls.

In his return to the starting lineup after sustaining a season-ending injury last season, Martín Cáceres finished the match with 28 of 29 completed passes (96.5%), four possessions won and three clearances.

Since MLS' inception in 1996, the LA Galaxy improved to 17-8-4 record in 29 MLS home openers played at Dignity Health Sports Park and the Rose Bowl Stadium.

In 22 MLS home opener's contested at Dignity Health Sports Park, LA holds a 12-6-4 record.

In their last seven home openers played dating back March 4, 2018, the Galaxy hold a 4-1-2 record.

Additionally, the Galaxy are unbeaten in their last seven MLS regular-season openers (4-0-3), dating back to a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 4, 2018.

Next Game

Next up, the LA Galaxy travel to face the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday, March 2 (7:30 p.m. PT; MLS Season Pass).

2024 MLS Regular Season

LA Galaxy (0-0-1, 1pt) vs. Inter Miami CF (1-0-1, 4pts)

Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024 - Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)

Goals by Half 1 2 F

LA Galaxy 0 1 1

Inter Miami CF 0 1 1

Scoring Summary:

LA: Joveljić (Delgado), 75

MIA: Messi (Alba), 90+2

Misconduct Summary:

MIA: Gressel (caution), 11

MIA: Busquets (caution), 21

LA: Delgado (caution), 46

MIA: Alba (caution), 51

LA: Delgado (second caution, red card), 88

Lineups:

LA: GK John McCarthy; D Miki Yamane, D Maya Yoshida ©, D Martín Cáceres, D Julián Aude (John Nelson, 79); M Mark Delgado, M Edwin Cerrillo, M Riqui Puig, F Diego Fagundez (Gabriel Pec, 70), F Joseph Paintsil (Daniel Aguirre, 86), F Dejan Joveljić (Miguel Berry, 86)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Novak Mićović; D Mauricio Cuevas, D Eriq Zavaleta; M Gastón Brugman, M Jonathan Pérez

TOTAL SHOTS: 24 (Joseph Paintsil, 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Riqui Puig, 4); FOULS: 14 (Riqui Puig, 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 4

MIA: GK Drake Callender; D DeAndre Yedlin, D Tomas Aviles, D Sergii Kryvtsov; M Sergio Busquets, M Lionel Messi ©, M Diego Gomez (Shanyder Borgelin, 84), M Julian Gressel; F Luis Suarez (Leo Campana, 67), F Robert Taylor (David Ruiz, 67)

Substitutes Not Used: GK CJ Dos Santos; D Jean Mota, D Ryan Sailor, D Nicolas Freire, D Noah Allen

TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Lionel Messi, 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Lionel Messi, 3); FOULS: 18 (Sergio Busquets, 6); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 8

Referee: Gabriele Ciampi

Assistant Referees: Salvador Reyes, Fermin Sanchez

Fourth Official: Wesley Costa

VAR: Sandro Ricci

Weather: Partly Cloudy, 59 degrees

Attendance: 27,642

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

LA GALAXY POSTGAME QUOTES

LA GALAXY HEAD COACH AND SPORTING DIRECTOR GREG VANNEY

On his thoughts on what the guys did out there:

"I was very pleased with the work of the guys. I thought especially for a first game and a season and then a number of guys. We probably had between Dejan [Joveljić], Riqui [Puig], obviously Joseph [Paintsil] - those guys didn't get much time in preseason either, so they came out. I thought everyone, but I thought they were very good. Trying to get in sync in terms of organizing a press and how to get pressure to them was going to be tough just because, again, those guys haven't had much time on the field together. I thought we did a really nice job of just condensing the field, making it difficult for them. From a defensive standpoint, I thought the back line, everybody stood tall for a lot of the game. John made a couple of big saves, which you're going to have to make against a team like this. With the quality that they have, you have to make a save. I thought we left a few opportunities on the table. That probably can be the difference when you are playing a team with the quality that they have. You have to finish your chances for sure when you get those opportunities. I'm really proud of the group. I look forward because I see what this team is capable of even on a night like tonight, and knowing the guys are still coming together and getting healthy and all that kind of stuff, I really am excited about the group we have."

On his thoughts on the atmosphere tonight and how to get to a point where every game is like this:

"It's interesting. I said that before the game. I was, like, one day every night is going to be like a night like tonight where every game is a spectacle of sorts. I think the league just has to keep growing. You have to keep getting top players because that's what people want to see. The quality of soccer continues to get better, but I think this is a sign that progress is being made. It did have a sense of a final, so that was great. Players love to play in this type of environment. You see the game that you saw tonight partly because of the atmosphere that's created by everything and everyone that's going around, and it just gets all of the resources of all of the players out there at the highest level. You know, concentration and work rate and all those things. Then you get a really interesting game out of it. I don't know. I can't tell you how long, but I feel like we're moving in that direction. We see it through different times last year. We certainly saw it in the Rose Bowl when it was LAFC and us. That night had a feel of a final and a spectacle, and it was in the middle of the season. There's ways and there's moments for it, and I hope more and more of these nights continue to come."

On whether today was fun for him:

"For sure. I love it. Playing against a team like that with players like that is a big challenge, trying to organize your group and set them up. I thought the game was there for us too. I was, again, really pleased with the guys, and it was fun for me."

His thoughts on Mark Delgado's yellow cards:

"Really, really soft. Really soft. It's tough on a game like this just where there are so many people here to watch the game, and it's a big spectacle too. You have to be careful with handing out soft yellows, and it ultimately changes the game, right? Changes the game big-time. You don't want to give Messi any more space than is already out there. He certainly took advantage of that, but that's unfortunate. Hopefully we don't see that too much."

His thoughts on Dejan Joveljić's performance:

"Good. It's a little bit of a tough game at times because you're trying to organize getting pressure to them, and sometimes you're in between. Riqui [Puig] was in lockdown [Sergio] Busquets mode, so then it became a lot of work for Dejan [Joveljić]. Sometimes getting between the two center backs and trying to get pressure, so became some work on that side. Again, I don't think we have to use him too much in link-up play. I don't think that's going to be our primary use of him, but I felt like he got into some good spots. I felt like his movements were good. I think he's going to find more opportunities. Again with our wingers and with the way we're playing and the speed we're playing, opportunities are going to show up. So I think it's a good solid start for him, and again, he didn't have much of a preseason because he missed a fair number of the minutes, so really getting up to maximum speed and sharpness is something he still is working through, but in general, I was pleased with his presence."

His thoughts on the backline:

"I was really pleased with them. It's not an easy team to play against, and the more time they have on the ball, the more difficult they are to play against. In terms of managing your gaps and managing the width, I thought they did a good job. I thought Edwin [Cerrillo] did a good job of trying to protect them and trying to take certain things away. The group collapsed and dealt with stuff. Maya dealt with a lot of crosses today that he was able to clear and intercept. I thought they played like what you would expect, two very experienced center backs that have seen a lot of things over the years and have helped to organize and read plays and deal with situations. You didn't see any, for lack of a better word, 'little kid stuff.' It was two mature guys who really kind of understood the situation and dealt with scenarios very well."

On whether he was surprised with the intensity of the game:

"Not really. I think you have Miami, who is Miami, and our guys were looking forward to lining up against Miami, so that brings a little bit of intensity to the situation. I think Miami is playing the Galaxy, which if you probably look at the slate of games that they have, there are a few of them that probably get their attention, and this is maybe one of them. I think that some of the calls early were maybe a touch soft, which maybe gets guys a little bit frustrated and wound up, and then you get into it a little bit more. I think different things kind of come into the game. You catch somebody the wrong time, the wrong way. I think the game picked up a little bit when Messi and Edwin were having some words. Then I felt like the intensity found just a little bit of a different level after that. They started pressing a little bit more, and I felt like the game clicked on a little bit. No, I'm not really surprised. Two highly competitive teams that are good and wanted to win today, so I think that's -- I like it. I think that's the way you want to get into a season and get ready to go."

On injury updates on Julian Aude and Gaston Brugman:

"Yeah, Julian, I think he was more cramping than anything. He said he didn't -- his terms were, "I didn't break the muscle." I think he was just cramping. With Gaston [Brugman], he'll be ready to go. He was ready to go tonight. I was just concerned with, to be honest, just the amount of defending we were doing and just him getting the confidence to be in challenges and tackles and situations like that. I just wanted to get him a little bit further along for that. I know he is going to be pissed because everybody wants to be in a game like this, but I felt like if we could get him one more week of live tackles and playing and training, then he'll be even more ready for the long haul of the season."

On whether there anything he's working on specifically this season from a mental point of view with the players in terms of closing games:

"The first thing is to keep all 11 guys on the field. That would have helped us I think closing out tonight, but yeah, we've been talking about it. We worked on being in a little bit lower block and having to protect our goal at times. Because we were down a man, it was hard to be any more aggressive stepping out and trying to get to them because the repercussion of that is you have Messi with space behind your line, so you have to sit and try to be compact as best you can for tonight. It's definitely something that we know we need to be better at than last year, but I don't think that's going to be a problem, but I think it's something we definitely have talked about and focused on, and that's just generally defending, but seeing out games is a part of that for sure."

On having a good group of players that are integrating well together and who thoughts on the goalkeeper competition for the starting role:

"Talking about the team and the group, I'm really excited about this group because I think we have, I think for the first time, a really nice balance between guys who want to play in between the lines and guys who want to play and go to goal and get behind and take people on one-on-one, and your team always has to have balance. You can't have a bunch of guys who want to come and get the ball at their feet. You have to have guys who want to run and want to play on the run and play on the move. Having a player like Ricky, who can skate through spaces and can get to the next line, having guys who can run is going to benefit him. It's going to benefit Dejan. It's going to benefit the whole team. I'm excited about it because it's going to be tough for teams to clog up the middle of the field on us because that's what everybody did when they came here in the past or played us last year. Just create against density in the middle of the field and see if wings can actually beat you. Now we can beat you on the wings, and that's what I feel like we're going to be. Now you have to make a decision. You have to defend the full width of the field, and that's going to open up real opportunities for everybody. So I'm excited about this group. Again, I think it's an athletic league. I think it's a league that requires you to have guys who can do those types of things, and I think we're in a good spot. Today was just a sample of where I think we can get to with this group. As far as the goalkeepers, John is the starter right now, but we really believe in Novak's potential. John has a really great presence behind the group and his experience and leadership and communication is important. Novak is still gaining that sort of confidence in behind the group, but he has a really high ceiling too. I really like the two guys that we've got back there. I feel really confident with both of them. We'll want to bring along Novak this year for sure, but John gives us a lot of stability and a lot of leadership. I really appreciate his personality. That's one of the things that I feel like is really good inside of our locker room and also inside of our team."

On what the message is for the group to keep this level of intensity for the rest of the season and the long haul:

"That's it. I think tonight is a night that -- this is why I like these types of games early. They set a standard for you. When you play against Miami, they require you to set a standard or else you're going to get blown off the field. So our work rate, our defensive concentration, the speed at which the ball was moving, all the things that -- the speed at which we were transitioning I thought, all of those things should be a standard for us. Now the question is, can we do this week in, week out and get a little bit sharper and take our chances a little bet better and keep improving as a group and integrating guys into the system? It's important given also just where we've been last year, I don't think you're going to have to motivate a ton of these guys. They know what last year felt like, and they certainly don't want to be in that. So I think the guys are going to be excited to get out and play, and I think they genuinely enjoy each other and feel like they have some real pieces to do some stuff. I think they'll like forward to each of these matches."

On whether this was the best back line performance during his tenure here:

"It's fair. I haven't thought that deeply about it yet, but I think it's got to be up there because I think it was very clean. It was very without too many, if any, real errors against a team that asks a lot of questions of you on the defensive side of things and are very clever the way they mover and players that are, Messi in particular, just so precise with the things that he can do that you can't be one step out or one step off or you could pay. I think you have to give the credit -- a lot of credit to the guys. Again, they were really locked in and connected, and they did a nice job of reading situations together as a group. You would have to put it up there without question."

On what he saw out of Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec today:

"They have some similarities in that they are both pretty direct. I would say [Joseph] Paintsil is a little less direct, will pop in between the lines sometimes, will play, whereas [Gabriel] Pec is quite direct. He's looking to go behind. He is going to drive forward. I think they have some qualities. Pec, Paintsil a little bit more, occasionally will come in between the lines, like I said, and come inside and invert it. So today he played on the right, which his strong foot is his right foot, so definitely he was driving a little bit more to the outside. But as he slides over to the left at times and I think when they're on their inverted side, if you will, I think you'll see Paintsil probably slide inside from time to time. Not a lot. I want them both to be pretty wide and to go afternoon the full backs."

LA GALAXY MIDFIELDER EDWIN CERRILLO

On starting the season marking Messi for a lot of the time and what his thought process was during this game:

"I think the ultimate goal was to win and to get the season started in the way we wanted. That was kind of my mentality, and that's what kind of kept me calm throughout the whole week and especially throughout the day today. I think if I put too much focus on him, then I lose focus of the ultimate goal, which is to win. Yeah, he plays around the areas that I have to defend, so I had to be alert the entire time. This game was probably the most mentally draining I've ever played. Disappointed with the result because ultimately we want to win and this club wants to win, but we put in a good shift, and this team is up for good things."

On the intensity of the match and how much it motivated him:

"Yeah, as soon as we went out for warmups, you could feel it. It was maybe the first time that I got chills going into the warmups. Then as the game started, ultimately keeping my focus and knowing that I can enjoy that moment after the game and with my family knowing that I played I guess against him. That wasn't the focus. Yeah, we had a moment there, just like with any player. I'm not one to back down. So I kind of blacked out in the moment just because it was him (smiling). I'm not going to back down from no one. That was a special moment for me. Maybe not for him, but I'll always remember it. Again, just with that being said, just disappointed that we couldn't close it off at the end."

On the team's defensive performance today:

"I think from the first day of preseason that was a big focus of what we wanted to improve on from last season and just getting everybody on the same page to make the effort, work for each other, stay organized, stay compact, and just everyone having the same goal of trying to keep the score at zero. We had a moment there where we went down to ten men, and ultimately it's a turnover that we could have avoided, but I think defensively everybody has the same goal of working for each other and knowing if we have a good defense, we have the pieces to attack the teams that we're up against."

On whether he ever told Messi, 'don't mess with Texas' at all during the game:

"No [laughs]. I like to think that I'm from L.A. now."

On how the game was mentally draining:

"Just being focused wherever he is because obviously it's no secret that he's a game changer. You take your focus off for one split second, and he makes a difference just like he did on that last play. So just being aware. Trying to be aware every second was kind of hard because he moves around a lot, and he has players that always look for him. I think that's just where I had to be focused and just always aware of him."

On how different the locker room is with the new players coming and whether there's a new sense of optimism:

"Yeah, I think from when I joined last season in August, you can definitely feel that change. Everybody around the club, the fans were disappointed that we didn't make the playoffs last year, and we want to prove to them that this team needs to be up top."

LA GALAXY FORWARD JOSEPH PAINTSIL

On what was his experience in his first game for the LA Galaxy:

"It was really a good game altogether. The crowd came in numbers, and that's really what we wanted because we wanted the crowd. We wanted the supporters. As you can see, they gave us a lot of energy when we scored the first goal. Yeah, seeing this kind of game and I love also playing this kind of game in the midst of the supporters. It was really a great game altogether, and we did a great job also."

On what he sees from the league and how he thinks he fits in:

"I think it's a great league. I think it's also really important for me because of my abilities, my qualities. I need to use it to also stop the defenders, especially when they have their space because Riqui [Puig] is someone who always has a really good view, especially when the player makes a run. So me playing around this fantastic team and this fantastic club is a really good opportunity for me. Yeah, as a team we gist work together and just have success in this game."

On whether he had experienced an atmosphere like today before:

"Yeah, I've played in this kind of atmosphere before, especially in Europe, and also in qualification also. Especially I think two years ago we played against Liverpool, so it was a great atmosphere. With this atmosphere it's also a fantastic atmosphere."

On whether he's disappointed to not secure the three points despite being the better team for larger parts of the game:

"Yeah, we are disappointed, but we are really good with the kind of football that we played. We find the spaces, and yeah, it's really disappointed that we let the three points go. No matter, we needed to have a good start of the season for us to win this game, but yeah, all hope is not gone. We did a fantastic job. It was just a little bit luck I think that Messi had the last goal and also the red card also. It's something that really make us a little bit down. As you can see, we were defending after the red card. So if we had a man really on the pitch, I think the results would have stayed 1-0."

On how excited he is to develop with the other attacking players, and how dangerous he thinks the team can be in MLS:

"As you can see, we have really young and talented players in this team. We have also up front with great talented skills with the Brazilian, with me, with Pec, and also with Riqui [Puig]. We just need a little bit time as time goes on because we just arrived. As you can see, we created a lot of chances. We should really finish. Yeah, this is part of football. We need to take it and just move forward to the next game. That is the most important thing and just kill it as always. If we always play like this, trust me, we have all the abilities to kill everything."

On what it was like to share the pitch with Riqui Puig tonight:

"Like I said, Riqui [Puig] is a fantastic player. He has the eye to give the ball whenever I do the runs and these are kind of players I always want to play with, especially also in my last club also. They know the kind of qualities I have, and I think Rick also knows the qualities I have and always puts the ball there whenever there is space. I think there is connection, and I think it's going to be a great connection in the coming few weeks."

On whether making a debut in a new country, new fans, new situation cause for any added nerves or it's just excitement as he came in for today's game:

" It was really excitement for me. In this kind of situation I always take my calmness and always ready because I know that the atmosphere is different. It's my first game, and in football all you need to do is just to have that kind of confidence and just come out because if I put a lot of stress in me, then I would have been making a lot of mistakes and be out of the game. So I think for me it was really a great thing for me with a lot of confidence because playing against Inter Miami and playing in front of this fantastic supporters give me a lot of boost. As you can see, it was really a great game all together."

On how it was for him to come into the league and play such a big game against big stars like Messi and Luis Suarez:

"I think it's a different country, but it's the old ball game altogether. It's the same we play in Europe and also in the U.S. Me playing alongside Messi and the rest, it's kind of something that always gives you the energy to also show yourself because playing against these fantastic players, it doesn't make you afraid. It rather gives you that boost to show whatever you have in yourself to prove yourself. As you can see also, they didn't really have a lot of chances in the game. Yeah, it is what it is. We just need to focus on whatever that is left. This game is gone. At least we didn't lose. We had a point, and it's a great start for us. Thank you."


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