The LA Galaxy put a damper on expansion side Charlotte FC's inaugural home game as Efraín Álvarez's late goal held up for a 1-0 win 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.
EFRA WHAT DID YOU JUST DO
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 6, 2022
Star forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernández was a difficult mark for the Charlotte defense, and the Galaxy got almost all of the better scoring chances and runs at the goal.
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.
75,000 fans in Charlotte, North Carolina for the 1st home match in @CharlotteFC history.What an incredible moment for @MLS and for American Soccer! The 2nd largest crowd on the planet this year.
Soccer won’t make it in America pic.twitter.com/toxV0QoP0s
— Stu Holden (@stuholden) March 6, 2022
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 Hernández 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. Álvarez 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 Ríos' header from close range with about a minute to play on Saturday night, and Charlotte ran out of time.