Carson, CA – LA Galaxy II defeated Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV) by a score of 1-0 thanks to a superb finish by one the LA Galaxy’s bright young stars on Wednesday night at the StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium. With the win, the team qualifies for the USL Playoffs — a feat they’ve managed every year since the creation of the club in 2014.
LA Galaxy II started the night with some of their regular starters on the bench. Jose Villarreal, Adonis Amaya, and Josh Turnley were all subs, while Ari Lassiter, Bryam Rebellon, Bradford Jamieson IV and the rest of the starters faced off against, no. 3 in the west, Rio Grande Valley FC.
The first half saw both teams struggle to finish chances, although they created some substantial efforts. LA Galaxy II was on the receiving end of most of the chances, the best of which, came in the 32nd minute when Rio Grande Valley’s Eric Bird pushed past the Los Dos defense and fired a shot towards Clement Diop. Diop was forced to make a kick-save and the chance ultimately fizzled out.
It was a half defined by Rio Grande’s organized defense and LA Galaxy II’s good offensive pressure and somewhat lucky defending. With many balls being cleared out over the touchline for corner kicks and continued chances.
But the second half seemed to be a different story for both teams. With RGV making a substitution at the half and LA Galaxy II sporting a different attacking attitude, the tables turned. Still, RGV was able to put a few early chances that would test Clement Diop, but they weren’t able to put one in the net.
No, it was the home team that would strike first. Just moments after missing a relatively wide open look on goal with a one-touch shot that missed wide — and with momentum definitely switching toward Los Dos — Lassiter once again found himself at the top of the box with space in front of him. While falling off balance ever so slightly, Ari was able to power one past Devin Parales for the tally in the 61st minute.
However, Rio Grande wasn’t deterred. Kyle Murphy would try his best in the 64th minute forcing Diop to make another huge save. As the defense fell asleep allowing Murphy to be wide open just outside the six-yard box.
There were other chances for Rio Grande in the 81st minute that saw Clement Diop make a diving slide to gobble up the ball at the feet of the attacker. And a very dangerous set piece in the 90th minute that saw Rebellon get a yellow card for fouling RGV’s Christian Lucatero just outside the box. But the free-kick was ultimately taken well over the bar and the end of the match followed about 4 minutes later with RGV pressing but never finding the equalizer.
LA Galaxy II will next travel to Sacramento over the weekend to take on Republic FC. You can watch all of Los Dos’ games live on YouTube via LAGalaxy.com.
WHO WE’RE WATCHING
Clement Diop had another solid performance. He made several big saves denying RGV a chance to get into this game. His positioning was solid and his reflexes on point. He did make one or two errors when he failed to come out and claim a ball that was in limbo, either from a corner kick or from a looped-in-cross. But he also made one of his trademark tackles on the ball about 35 yards from his own goal-line. While he makes you nervous, he has the speed and athleticism to make plays like that seem easy. Sometimes they go awry.
Lee Nishanian was solid on defense all night. Despite the fact that this LA Galaxy II team has struggled to maintain a clean sheet, Nishanian was in the right place at the right time most of the night. Whether it was getting a body on a defender in the air on a corner kick, or making solid clearances while facing his own goal, he was calm and confident for most of the night. With a patchwork of players, a constant switch of personnel, and the need to develop young talent,
With a patchwork of players, a constant switch of personnel, and the need to develop young talent, Los Dos has struggled to find consistency in their performances. But Nishanian is starting to show that he’s capable of 90-minute performances.
Ari Lassiter had a strong night. Sure he got the game winning goal but he looked dangerous in starts and stops and his work rate was outstanding. He would benefit greatly from some intelligent running off the ball, and he’d also do great with a better support system in the middle of the park, but he created most of LA Galaxy II’s chances and he finished a difficult shot for the game-winning goal. Things are looking up for Lassiter.
LA Galaxy II: Clement Diop; Oscar Sorto, Jefrey Payeras, Lee Nishanian (Josh Turnley 62’), Dave Romney; Bradford Jamieson IV (Jose Villarreal 63’), Alejandro Covarrubias, Bryam Rebellon, Denzel Slager; Ethan Zubak (Adonis Amaya 58’), Ariel Lassiter
LA – Ariel Lassiter (Assisted by Adonis Amaya) 61’