At last week’s game versus Orange County, there were a number of Los Dos standouts: after saving a penalty that prevented Orange County from getting on the score-sheet, Frenchman Clement Diop made a strong case for Man of the Match.
However, it is likely that Ariel Lassiter’s physical gifts, Raul Mendiola’s creativity and Jack McBean’s work-rate all played a hand in getting Los Dos to the Western Conference Final this season as all three players put in great shifts against OCBlues.
Credit also can be given to the back-line, which helped keep a clean sheet and managed to contain the unruly and dangerous Orange County Curaçaoan forward, Denzel Slager.
This weekend’s opponent, OKC Energy FC, is managed by Jimmy Nielson, the former Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper who stood between the sticks for SKC in 2013 during the infamous penalty shootout in which he made two penalty saves during ten rounds of penalties and saw SKC crowned MLS Cup winners. Nielson, a vivid character in the soccer world (if you have not listened to his interview entitled “The Gambler” with Football Weekly’s Iain Macintosh, do give it a listen), has enjoyed great success as a manager in USL, coaching his team to a second-place finish in the USL Western Conference with 47 points from a 13-7-8 record. His starting striker, Danishman Danni König, leads the Western Conference in goals, having scored 21 this season for Oklahoma City. Nielson has also taking a liking to the American playoff system, telling MLSSoccer.com last week:
“It’s an American mentality,” he said. “You see it in basketball. You see it in hockey. You see it in baseball. You see it in all sports. When it comes to the playoffs, it’s just going to take you an extra level up.”
It was at this point during the USL playoffs last year that LA Galaxy II was disqualified from competition, going down to the Sacramento Republic in a nail-biting 3-2 semifinal match (Los Dos dispatched the boys from Sactown two weeks ago). If LA Galaxy II win this weekend, they will face off against whoever prevails in the Eastern Conference Final match scheduled for October 10, 2015, between the Rochester Rhinos and Louisville City FC. The USL Championship is scheduled for October 17, 2015.