The LA Galaxy II took to the field again Saturday night, defending their home turf against USL Pro newcomers Sacramento Republic FC. Both teams were in for a hard-fought 90 minutes spent mostly in the middle third of the pitch, as rough-and-tumble soccer took precedence over any sort of beautiful game. LA looked more dangerous on the night, but Sacramento wanted it more. At full-time they’d settle on an unsatisfying but well-earned draw.

“Los Dos” started off strong, controlling the ball and producing a couple good looks on goal. But Sacramento elbowed their way into the game with, well, elbows — and shoves, tugs, and hard tackles. Jack McBean saw the brunt of it, getting yanked to the ground during a breakaway. But LA was quick to return the favor: when defender Logan Emory slid in, cleats-up, his ugly tackle drew the yellow card it deserved.

“It felt like every time we would try to get into a rhythm they would clip someone, take someone out to try to slow the game down. So credit to them for making it difficult for us. It made it a tough game to get the ball moving when there’s a foul every couple seconds.”
— Chandler Hoffman

Despite the rough play the Galaxy II neutralized Sacramento’s attack for most of the first half. It took a chaotic corner kick for the Republic to break through — but Sacramento made the most of the chaos.

When poor communication and a poorer clearance left keeper Brian Rowe on the ground with the ball in the air, Sacramento didn’t give him a chance to get up. Forward Justin Braun headed it sharply into the back of the net, chalking up the first goal in his young club’s history and giving the visitors the lead at half.

LA didn’t find an equalizer until the 81st minute. A smart pass from Raul Mendiola took a lucky bounce off a Sacramento defender to land at the feet of Chandler Hoffman. The angle wasn’t perfect but Hoffman was up to the challenge, beating Republic’s keeper by letting him make the first move.

“Raul plays a great ball into me, I see the defender’s coming and I feel like he’s going to over-commit. So I fake a shot with my left, he goes flying by and then it was just me and the goalie. I picked out my spot and put it away.”
— Chandler Hoffman

The frantic final minutes saw several more chances for LA, but at 90 minutes the scoreboard still read 1-1. The Galaxy II will have to be happy with a draw. To their credit, it’s never easy to concede an early goal and stay in the game long enough to come back.

Los Dos have plenty to work on. Communication was poor and they didn’t win nearly enough balls out of the air. Yet the Galaxy II’s biggest weakness was poor execution. It’s clear what style of play LA II are aiming for: snappy, one-touch passes that add up to quick counterattacks. That’s a tough game to play and, tonight, too many of those single-touch passes ended up at the wrong feet.

But it’s early. If the Galaxy II can stick out the sloppiness and stomach this awkward growing phase — if they can learn to predict each others’ movements and start clicking — they’ll be dangerous as hell.

LA II’s next game is April 7th, at home against OKC Energy FC.