Carson, CA – Up 1-0 in extra time with five minutes left on the clock, the LA Galaxy conceded two set piece goals to lose in the US Open Cup Semifinals to FC Dallas in shocking fashion.
Two goals, the first from Matt Hedges in the 116th minute and the second in the 121st minute from Victor Ulloa, both on Corner Kicks from Mauro Diaz so a talented and hungry FC Dallas team erase the one goal deficit and seal the LA Galaxy’s fate.
Earlier in the game it was the Galaxy who pressured FC Dallas in a game that saw the winner host the US Open Cup Final.
LA Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena rested several of his veteran starters after the LA Galaxy’s 2-2 draw with New York on Sunday. Arena inserted in some of the younger players and it was those younger players that really tried to shine for the home team on the night.
The only real surprise in this lineup may be the exclusion of Jelle Van Damme who would’ve given this LA Galaxy team a boost on overall defense, set piece defending, and is always dangerous as an offensive threat with both his long passes and his ability to be a target on set pieces.
Rafa Garcia was good in his right back position and Raul Mendiola was very good from his right wing position. Mendiola was dangerous on the inside and used his speed effectively. Emmanuel Boateng, on Mendiola’s opposite side, was also dangerous and used his blazing speed to continually beat Dallas down to the touchline.
But for the Galaxy, it was mostly everything in-between that was the problem. Veteran players like Alan Gordon, Baggio Husidic, and Jeff Larentowicz lacked sharpness on the night. Gordon couldn’t finish from point blank range and even Mike Magee, your eventual LA Galaxy goal scorer, missed from close. Two chances that should’ve seen the LA Galaxy up early, just evaporated.
Dallas for their part took shots on goal forcing Brian Rowe to make 9 saves on the night. Dallas outshot the LA Galaxy 26 to 11. Shots on goal were equally as lopsided with Dallas getting 11 shots on frame to the Galaxy’s 5.
But when watching this game I wouldn’t say Dallas had the better chances. I would say they just had some chances. Brian Rowe had another outstanding night and forced Dallas to continually try and test him.
Substitutions were once again delayed until the 74th minute, matching the exact minute that Gyasi Zardes and Giovani dos Santos entered the US Open Cup match against Seattle – a game where Arena later stated that he was delaying the substitutions to guard against tired legs in a possible extra time scenario.
Zardes and Dos Santos provided a lift for the LA, but it wouldn’t become apparent until the 100th minute. A superb dribbling display by Gyasi Zardes led to a touch perfect pass to Dos Santos who forced FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz to come off his line but draw contact. Referee Ted Unkel pointed to the spot and Mike Magee, the Galaxy’s Captain for the night, stepped up to bury the shot.
From there the LA Galaxy played well until the final 5 minutes when FC Dallas came storming back.
THIS HURTS – AND IT SHOULD
The LA Galaxy were just five minutes away from their first US Open Cup final since 2006. That’s 10 years of one of the best teams in Major League Soccer not even sniffing the easiest CONCACAF Champions League spot for American MLS teams. And let’s not fool ourselves, the schedule the Galaxy were gifted in the US Open Cup this year is a main reason for their success. Only one road game during the run. That schedule is probably more of a reason for the results going the way of the team in this years Open Cup than anything else.
And it was a game that proved the theory that the LA Galaxy have a deeper bench than the Supporters Shield leaders, FC Dallas. And Bruce Arena was just minutes away from showing MLS and a lot of fans of the LA Galaxy that a non DP lineup could get the job done in the US Open Cup. But three games in 7 days could still be a reason for this team coming up short.
But the total minutes on these players feet really came to a head in the last 5 minutes. Tired legs. Tired Brains. And maybe some Zonal Marking.
And does Bruce Arena have an argument about the one minute of additional time that was added onto extra time? Sure. But does it matter? Probably not.
“You know, I’ll be honest with you. You play 120 minutes. They stop the game in regulation on a goal kick. Giving extra time after 120 minutes…was there anything that was so obvious? Having said that, we still allowed a goal and all that, but that’s very frustrating.” Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy Head Coach
SET PIECE DEFENDING
FC Dallas Head Coach Oscar Pareja said that his team spent a lot of time on set pieces. In fact he emphasized it twice, basically saying that his coaching staff felt like there was something there to exploit in the way the LA Galaxy defend set pieces.
Matt Hedges was heard to say that zonal marking made it easier for him to find space.
And no matter what you think of Ashley Cole coming off the post and allowing a ball to squeeze between his outside leg and the woodwork, it was Dave Romney who had both of those set piece goals go past his head.
“I just saw the replays, and it is really frustrating, because those goals are so preventable. Everything leading up to the corner kicks, everything with the corner kicks, it’s just not good enough.” Dave Romney, LA Galaxy Defender
Is zonal marking an issue? I don’t know, but in casual conversation with other reporters it feels like the LA Galaxy, under Bruce Arena, have always been soft on set piece defending.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Raul Mendiola was a breath of fresh air. For all those who complained about the younger lineup it was the young kids who really stepped up and had the better night. Mendiola was dynamic and settled. Unlike some of the other LA Galaxy diminutive players, Raul plays bigger than his size. He’s quick shifting and hard to tackle, and he doesn’t stop running.
Honorable mention to Emmanuel Boateng who was a real headache for Dallas on the night.
LA – Mike Magee (penalty) 101’
FCD – Matt Hedges (Assisted by Mauro Diaz) 116’
FCD – Victor Ulloa (Assisted by Maura Diaz) 120’+1
QUOTE OF THE GAME
Bruce Arena on what you say to players after a game like this:
“You get on them and have them accept that responsibility for failing in that situation. And in the other locker room you obviously applaud them. But there’s no excuse on our end, we shouldn’t lose that game.”