Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy entered the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in with a 3-1 victory over Orange County SC on Wednesday at the StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium, in Carson, CA.
US Open Cup games often provide an opportunity for coaches to explore deeper roster options in order to rest first team players, and the LA Galaxy did just that in this game. With the exception of captain Jelle Van Damme, who will be serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation in this Saturday’s MLS regular season match against the Houston Dynamo, the starting lineup was filled with players who are first team subs more often than they are starters. Head coach Curt Onalfo may be more comfortable with his roster depth than most coaches, as he had worked with many players on the USL LA Galaxy II side when he was the head coach there just last season.
Jose Villarreal broke open the scoring in the 17th minute with a powerful strike from about 40 yards out, but Orange County SC’s Roy Meeus equalized in the 26th minute off a corner kick. Shortly after the equalizer, the intensity and physicality in the match rose as both teams struggled to find the upper hand, resulting in first half yellow cards to OCSC’s Jerry van Ewik and Dusan Stevanovic. Ultimately, this physicality lead to an LA Galaxy penalty after Jack McBean was fouled in the box by OCSC’s Salomon Wbias. McBean converted the penalty, and the first half ended with a 2-1 scoreline, despite many dangerous chances from OCSC.
The second half felt much more one-sided, as the LA Galaxy showed their dominance. Ariel Lassiter sealed the deal in the 73rd minute to make the final score 3-1.
While some may argue that former Galaxy coaches may not have made the US Open Cup a priority, current LA Galaxy head coach, Curt Onalfo, emphasized the importance of these games for developing a young roster:
“These are important games for our club, but you have to utilize your roster. If you look at our next 2 ½ weeks, now that we won this game, it’s seven games in 2 ½ weeks, so it’s basicallyWednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday for a long period of time, so you have to utilize your roster. Guys have to step up, and credit to the players who got goals out of young attacking players, which is something that really was a big goal of mine going into the game. You know, obviously, Jack [McBean] getting a goal was big, and Ari Lassiter. It’s good for their confidence and it’s good for our group.”
As the schedule becomes more intense for the Galaxy, as well as a build up of injuries and international team commitments, arise, Onalfo has to dig deeper into his roster and begin to rely more heavily on guys who would not normally get much playing time if the situation was different. Up next for the Galaxy is an MLS regular season game on Saturday, June 17th against the Houston Dynamo at home at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA.