Efrain Alvarez hits stunner as LA Galaxy spoil FC Charlotte's home opener

The LA Galaxy put a dampener on expansion side Charlotte FC's inaugural home game as Efrain Alvarez's late goal held up for a 1-0 win on Saturday night before a Major League Soccer record crowd of 74,479.

The atmosphere and loudness of the huge crowd was the story of the night in North American soccer, but the Galaxy put on a better overall performance than the home team.


Star forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez was a difficult mark for the Charlotte defense, and the Galaxy got almost all of the better scoring chances and runs at the goal.

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With such locally based sports celebrities such as former Carolina Panthers star Steve Smith Sr. and former NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson in attendance, Charlotte was lifted by the huge turnout and support. However, it didn't manifest itself into many opportunities.

For much of the first half, Charlotte had no shots toward the goal. The Galaxy outshot them 15-1 through 45 minutes. Kristijan Kahlina had three saves in the first half in the Charlotte goal.

The second half saw both teams get chances. The Galaxy and Hernandez were close, but the game changed in the 76th minute when Charlotte just missed a goal that would have given them the lead.


Right after Charlotte's Christian Fuchs and Benjamin Bender couldn't convert chances -- Fuchs' shot saved and Bender hitting the post -- the Galaxy countered quickly. Alvarez struck from 20 yards out for what would be the game winner.

Samuel Grandsir, a substitute for the Galaxy, had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 88th minute but his shot was saved.

Not even the six minutes of stoppage time in the second half could help Charlotte, which lost 3-0 in the opening week of the season at DC United.

Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond saved Daniel Rios' header from close range with about a minute to play on Saturday night, and Charlotte ran out of time.

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Charlotte crowd shows up 74,000-plus strong for MLS debut
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The Charlotte FC crowd comes out in full force, with 74,300 in attendance for the club's MLS debut.
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