Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy will advance to the next round of the US Open Cup after defeating USL side Sacramento Republic 2-0 on Wednesday night at the StubHub Track & Field Stadium. Both goals came in a second half that saw the Galaxy establish themselves early and close out the game without much of whimper from the visitors.
But the game didn’t always have the Galaxy running away with it. In fact, the opening minutes of the match saw Sacramento miss several good chances before eventually ceding possession back to the Galaxy. And the entire first half was played in and end-to-end sprinting contest that saw tons of quality leading up to the final chances, but very little in terms of finishing.
The Galaxy saw eight chances fall short of finding the net with just one of those forcing Sacramento ‘keeper Evan Newton to make any saves.
On the other side of things, Sacramento created six chances with two forcing saves from Galaxy goalkeeper Jon Kempin. And both sides looked dangerous throughout the first 45-minutes.
In the second half, and after Jelle Van Damme entered the field, things quickly turned golden for the Galaxy.
Jack McInerney drew a foul in the 47th-minute from about 25 yards out. And while the angle wasn’t great, Galaxy striker Ariel Lassiter stepped up and took the free kick. The ball easily cleared the Sacramento wall and quickly found the back of the net giving the home team a 1-0 lead.
“I knew he couldn’t see the ball if I hit it over the wall,” Lassiter told reporters about his goal. “I just focused on connecting it well and keeping it on target and it went in the net.”
But the Galaxy weren’t done with the scoring. In fact, they’d score again less than two minutes later.
Bradford Jamieson has been having quite the run of success lately. Earning plaudits from reporters, coaches and fans alike in all his most recent appearances. In tonight’s game, he was simply the best player on the field for either team. His lightning speed, quick feet, and ability to quickly fire off shots is quickly garnering shouts for him to start for the club in place of a struggling Gyasi Zardes. Tonight was no different.
Jamieson received the ball just inside the attacking half where he made a great move to break himself free of coverage. Using a runner to his right as a decoy – ultimately freezing the defender between having to make two choices – he made a good shot that took a favorable deflection and slammed into the back of the net.
He sounded confident as he talked to reporters after the game. “I’ve got a good run I don’t really remember who it is but I saw a white shirt on my right side, so I know the defender is going to be hesitating and then I just get the space and have a hit,” Jamieson said.
The rest of the match was about managing minutes as Onalfo went to his bench to sub off Rafa Garcia and eventually João Pedro. With eyes on both the previous game, the current game, and Saturday’s matchup with San Jose it was important to balance as many minutes across as many players as possible.
“Rotating a roster is a luxury, it shows depth. I thought we put in a good performance. Should’ve been more than two to zero. There should be a penalty kick call to make it three to zero, and who knows what happens. We gave up some counter opportunities, because we were really aggressive in our approach in the first half. Some of it was youthful errors that led to that, but credit to the guys.” Curt Onalfo, Galaxy Head Coach
Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo confirmed that Nathan Smith would be missing their MLS game on Saturday – likely due to his dangerous tackle on Sporting KC’s Benny Feilhaber. But otherwise, one might want to focus on players who were rested and were on the bench in this game for any clues as to who might start over the weekend.
“I thought we did a good job and it feels good to be able to use the entire roster because that was a fifth game in a very busy stretch,” Onalfo relayed after the victory. “We got two more to go and obviously a very important game on Saturday.”
The Galaxy’s will face off against the San Jose Earthquakes in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup on July 10th, 2017 at Avaya Stadium (7:30 PM). The ‘Quakes are also the Galaxy’s weekend opponent as more than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the Standford Stadium showdown.
And while there is certainly a lot of concern that any additional games at this point are just too much for this injury-riddled team to handle, the club is just three wins away from winning a trip to the CONCACAF Champions League. And any time you can creep closer to winning a major trophy by giving a lot of bench players minutes, you’re in an envious position.