CARSON — Riqui Puig made his debut inside of Dignity Health Sports Park, but as a spectator and in a suit as he was introduced to the crowd.
His teammates put on impressive first-half performance en route to a comfortable 5-2 win Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday in front of 21,465.
“The group is very confident in what they’re doing and what they have to do,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said.
Samuel Grandsir scored a pair of goals, Victor Vazquez chimed in a 20-yard blast and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez converted a penalty kick all inside of the first 40 minutes of the half for a dominating 4-0 lead.
Julian Araujo added two assists. For Vazquez, it was his first goal with his son Leo in town from Barcelona.
Vanney called Grandsir’s performance “efficient.”
“Solid, mature, controlled,” Vanney said of the first half. “We’ve been through a tough stretch, now we’re getting guys healthy, we get Riqui in, now we have to get back to preparation. We have to do it one at a time for 10 more games.
“We did a lot of things that we’ve done well in spurts during the season, but we did them well over a longer stretch, which is the key.”
Vancouver cut the lead in half in the second half, but Efrain Alvarez put the finishing touches on the game and win with a tap in on a pass from Dejan Joveljic in the 89th minute.
That was the first time since 2016 that the Galaxy (10-11-3, 33 points) scored four goals in the first half. The last time it was accomplished was April 23 in a 5-2 win over Real Salt Lake.
The win is as important as any for the Galaxy, especially at this moment of the season. Entering the game, the Galaxy had slipped to 10th in a jam-packed playoff chase in the Western Conference.
With the win, they’ve moved up to sixth. At the start of the weekend, just six points separated third place from 11th place. The top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Four goals is the Galaxy’s season-high, having hit that mark against Austin FC May 29 in a 4-1 win.
The Galaxy played the final 10 minutes of regulation with a man advantage after Cristian Dajome was sent off with his second yellow card following a reckless challenge against Araujo.
As for Puig, he’s scheduled to have his Visa appointment Monday, which would then pave his way to make his on-field debut Friday against the Seattle Sounders.