LA Galaxy 5, Central FC 1 | CONCACAF Champions League Recap
CARSON, Calif. -- Giovani Dos Santos punctuated a fine debut for the LA Galaxy on Thursday night with a goal in a 5-1 CONCACAF Champions League romp over Trinidad and Tobago's Central FC, then nearly netted a second.
Alan Gordon and Raul Mendiola scored first-half goals and Gyasi Zardes tallied from a penalty kick soon after the break before Dos Santos and Ignacio Maganto added late strikes in a physical, sometimes testy affair marked, at least in the first 45 minutes, by questionable refereeing decisions.
The Mexican star, signed last month from Spanish club Villarreal, came on a dozen minutes into the second half of a Group D encounter dominated from start to finish by LA, helped move the ball around as LA looked to build on a two-goal advantage, then hit the net in the 76th minute and nearly did so again, firing wide five minutes later.
He drew “Gio!” chants from a crowd of 13,625 at StubHub Center as he entered the field and after tallying as LA matched its CCL high for goals, set in their 2012-13 opener, a 5-2 rout of El Salvador's Isidro Metapan.
The Galaxy have scored 30 goals in their last six competitive games at StubHub.
Gordon tallied in the fourth minute, nodding home a cross from Zardes, and it looked like the beginnings of a blowout.
Maganto was the catalyst, picking off a short pass at midfield, taking off toward Central's box, then playing a through ball for Zardes to beat defender Akeem Benjamin. Zardes, in the box, spotted Gordon just beyond the left post and chipped it for a simple header back across the goalmouth and into the far-post netting.
Central equalized within two minutes, with Ataullah Guerra converting a gift of a penalty kick. Brian Rowe took the ball off Plaza's feet, upending him while doing so, and had control of the ball on the left edge of LA's box but Belizean referee Christopher Reid pointed to the spot.
The Sharks took only one other shot and never challenged Rowe again.
The final 15 minutes or so of the first half were played a frenetic pace, starting with Mendiola's 32nd-minute strike.
Zardes, at midfield on the left, played a ball over the top for Gordon, who got a touch but couldn't control it. The speedier Mendiola ran past Gordon, from left to right, to collect the ball and pushed it beyond Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, who was well off his line, then fired into an empty net, his initial first-team goal for LA.
Mendiola left with an apparent injury four minutes later, when Williams came out of his box for a ball and put a forearm into the second-year midfielder's face, picking up a yellow card that LA thought should have been red. Mendiola had to be stretchered off the field but walked to the locker room.
Dos Santos, who is slated to make his MLS debut in Sunday afternoon's StubHub match against the Seattle Sounders (4 pm ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes), came on in the 57th minute for Gordon moments after Zardes converted from the spot, to make it 3-1, after Keion Goodridge took down Gordon on the right edge of the box.
Dos Santos sent a free kick from the right flank that Dave Romney headed wide three minutes later and headed a Maganto cross at Williams just before hitting the net.
He scored after Lletget played a ball to the left edge of the box for Rafael Garcia, who flicked it to the near post, just above the 6-yard box, where Dos Santos put his shot off the right post and into the net.
Maganto added an 84th-minute goal from a Lletget feed.
The Galaxy are home against Guatemalan power Comunicaciones on Aug. 18. Central returns to CCL duty Aug. 27 at Comunicaciones.