Portland, OR – The LA Galaxy won 1-0 on an early Raul Mendiola goal in the 5th round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday night in Portland.
The Galaxy started quickly with a couple chances early in the game. And during a swing of possession, Ashley Cole lifted a beautiful chip to Emmanuel Boateng. Boateng took a great first touch and, while deep in the box on the left hand side, cut the ball back to the top of the box. Raul Mendiola ran onto the ball and struck it, maybe miss hitting it, into the bottom left corner of the Timbers net.
It wasn’t a pretty goal, and the cross seemed to be more about finding some space in an open area than picking out Mendiola, but it went into the back of the net. And for a team that has struggled to score goals
But it was Portland who would dominate the rest of the half and the strong backline of the LA Galaxy struggled to keep Portland out of back of the net. In fact on no less than three occasion Portland was able to put extreme pressure on the LA Galaxy as LA was caught forward into an attacking press.
But Clement Diop, was up to the task. He repeatedly beat Portland to the ball and on more than one occasion was the last man to stop a clear breakaway.
If you were looking for something exciting to happen in the second half the LA Galaxy did their best to upset you. They played smart and defensive soccer. And the experienced back line of AJ DeLaGarza, Dave Romney, Jelle Van Damme, and Ashley Cole did well to keep Portland in front of them and kill the game off.
In the midfield, Jeff Larentowicz, in that defensive roll, also played well. Good anticipation, good tackling, and timely interceptions kept the Timbers off balance and out of the net.
But it was really Raul Mendiola who stood out for the LA Galaxy despite being subbed off in the 64th minute. Mendiola hustled back on defense on multiple occasions and was a key contributor on the offensive side of the ball.
And of course he scored the games only goal, so he gets some extra points.
Steven Gerrard, who was not in the lineup or on the bench for this US Open Cup match, said that players would have to step up if the LA Galaxy were going to start winning games again. In this case it was Raul Mendiola who helped the LA Galaxy win this game.
And for once in 2016, LA managed to not give up a late goal to surrender a 1-0 lead.
The LA Galaxy will play in the next round of the US Open Cup on July 20th when they host the Seattle Sounders. But in a turn of bad luck, the Galaxy may be going somewhere else to play this game as the Crossfit games are in town at StubHub Center. So maybe a return to Cal State Fullerton is in order for this Quarterfinal tie.