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Ghana’s Emmanuel Boateng powers LA Galaxy to MLS Cup semis


Ghana’s young and sensational midfielder Emmanuel Boateng became the star attraction of the first knockout round of the Audi 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup after scoring two Messi-like goals to power LA Galaxy to the Western Conference semifinals of the Playoffs.

On a high stage of the MLS Playoffs, many pundits would have expected Galaxy’s big name stars like Robbie Keane, Steve Gerard, Giovani dos Santos, Landon Donavan and co to make the difference but it was the young Ghanaian midfielder who put up a star performance to defeat Real Salt Lake 3-1 to book a semifinal date with Colorado Rapids.

The night almost became a nightmare for the Ghanaian when the referee harshly penalized him on the 21st minute for his defensive commitment to award a penalty to Real Salt Lake to cancel Alan Gordon’s 14th minute opener for LA.

The harsh decision by the referee did not discourage the 22-year-old midfielder; rather, it spurred him on to put up a show of the night as he became the cynosure of the game, lasting76 minutes for coach Bruce Arena.

He quickly took up the challenge and scored two wonderful goals in the 26th and 34th minute to take LA to the next stage.

On the 26th minute, Boateng rounded off four defenders to slot in his first goal of the night before capitalizing on his pace to score his personal second and LA’s third on the 34th minute to take the game beyond Real Salt Lake.

“Excellent game”! “We’ve been looking for him to break out a little bit and he did today”, head coach Bruce Arena said of Boateng’s performance.

“I think he had two great goals. He really didn't foul the player [Javier Morales] on the penalty kick, which was unfortunate, but I think it got him a little angry and he made up for it for sure.”

It was Boateng’s fourth goal of the season, all of which have come against the Claret-and-Cobalt of Real Salt Lake.

When asked what it is about RSL that gets him in the mood, Boateng’s response was simple: “I don’t know”. “I prepare for that game [against RSL] just as I prepare for every other game. I just take what the defense gives me.”

America’s most revered soccer player Landon Donavan likened Boateng’s goals to Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s.

“If Messi scored a goal like that, people would be talking about it for weeks. These guys have been telling me, since I’ve been back, that he has that in him. He was terrific and we need him to play like that,” Donovan concluded.

On April 26 this year, Emmanuel Boateng announced his presence in the MLS proper when he was voted MLS Player of the Week for Week 8 by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR).

Boateng picked up the Week 8 award after starring in LA's 5-2 win over previously unbeaten Real Salt Lake, scoring his first Galaxy goal and adding two assists in LA's big home win.

But even before that, Boateng made his intention known when he told Ghana Soccer US (www.ghsoccerus.net) that: “For this season with LA, it is definitely to get to the championship games and then to win it. And for me personally, I am just trying to improve every day, get more minutes and help the team any way that I can. Also getting a few goals and creating assists and just impress every time I get on the field”.

In the other first round game, Joshua Yaro’s Philadelphia Union failed to progress when they lost 3-1 to Toronto FC. Yaro was still absent following his scary injury at the closing stage of the regular season.
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