Galaxy face stern test in opener with Inter Miami visiting

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Inter Miami CF have a victory under their belts while the Los Angeles Galaxy are focused on getting off to a strong start.

The Galaxy face a stern test for an opening-game opponent when they entertain Inter Miami on Sunday night at Carson, Calif.

Inter Miami started its season with a 2-0 home victory over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night. Robert Taylor and Diego Gomez scored the goals while Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez had assists.

Suarez and Messi were teammates for six seasons (2014-20) for FC Barcelona and are aiming to produce a championship run with the Herons.

"It's a title the club hasn't won yet," Suarez said of the MLS Cup. "That's the goal, that's the challenge for me and the whole team."

Inter Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino said the Messi-Suarez reunion is a work in progress. Martino, who coached Messi in Barcelona for the 2013-14 campaign, feels the chemistry between the two will eventually click.

"Every training session helps players get to know each other better," Martino said. "They know each other, a lot, but they have to rediscover that partnership that worked at Barcelona."

Messi took five shots against Real Salt Lake with three on target. Both of Suarez's shots were on target.

The Galaxy (8-14-12, 36 points in 2023) are looking to bounce back from a miserable season that marked their second losing campaign in four seasons.

That led to an offseason makeover that included the departures of three forwards -- captain Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez returned to Chivas in Guadalajara, Tyler Boyd was traded to Nashville SC and Douglas Costa is now with Brazilian club Fluminense.

Earlier this week, goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and the club mutually parted ways. Former MLS Cup MVP John McCarthy was signed in the offseason and will be the No. 1 man in goal.

One key offseason acquisition was bringing in forward Gabriel Pec from Brazilian side Vasco da Gama for a $10 million transfer fee. Another deal involved a $9 million transfer fee to land forward Joseph Paintsil from Genk in Belgium.

Midfielder Riqui Puig, who scored seven goals last season to tie Boyd for the team lead, saw the spending and knew what it meant, especially with coach Greg Vanney in the final season of a four-year contract.

"This year we no longer have excuses," Puig told reporters. "We have to produce our best football. It's a very important year for us, for the players, for the club and for the coach."

The Galaxy won the lone previous meeting, 3-2 in 2021 at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

--Field Level Media