Call it the Battle of Los Angeles or the Los Angeles Derby, but don’t call it an easy victory for the Los Angeles Galaxy. After Cesar Rivera scored a stunner to put the Los Angeles Blues up 1-0 the Galaxy rallied back with two unanswered goals to advance to the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, 2-1.
The first half started off with the Galaxy playing lethargically. The game also started auspiciously as Blues’ captain Josh Tudela received a yellow for a challenge 17 seconds into the game. The game was officiated by Alejandro Mariscal, but the most interesting part was that Eduardo Mariscal and Apolinar Mariscal were the assistant referees and Felisha Mariscal was the fourth official. It was a family gathering of sorts for them. Not long after, Gregg Berhalter received a yellow card for his tackle in the eighth minute. The head referee’s cautions allowed him to keep a tight reign on the game throughout the night.
The first half was filled with shots too high or wide to bother either keeper, but Blues’ defender Cameron Dunn went out with an injury and was replaced by former Galaxy member Leonard Griffin. The best chance of the half came in the 41th minute when the Galaxy’s Jovan Kirovski put a header on target that was saved by Dautt, but not handled. Berhalter then put the ball on target only to have it cleared by Nelson Akwari. The Blues then had a chance on the counter-attack with Israel Sesay, but he failed to score and the score was 0-0 at halftime.
In the second half the Blues came out with the attacking mindset. Their persistence paid off when Chukwundu Chijindu cut a ball across the corner of the eighteen to newly-signed Carlos Borja who fired a shot that was controlled by substitute Cesar Rivera who slotted it into the back of the net for a shocking 1-0 Blues lead in the 62nd minute.
This woke up the sleeping giant in the Galaxy. They pressed further up the pitch in order to get an equalizer while the Blues dug in. Galaxy manager Bruce Arena brought in Juninho to help the attack, and in 75th minute he achieved his purpose. His free kick found the head of Omar Gonzalez who equalized the game with the Galaxy’s first goal and sent the Galaxy supporters into a frenzy.
According to Gonzalez, “Right before that, Gregg (Berhalter) looked at me and said, ‘Wake up and find a way to get yourself into the game.’”
They didn’t have to wait much longer as six minutes later in the 81st the Galaxy found their hero. It was already a week for Mike Magee to remember, as he performed admirably in goal for the Galaxy in an MLS match for the Galaxy, earning himself MLS Player of the Week honors. Once again, he was able to step up again, this time with an Open Cup goal. Juninho sent a floating free kick that found Gonzalez, then was headed back across the penalty area to an open Magee, who slotted the game winner.
Although the scoring was over, the bookings weren’t. Galaxy forward Adam Cristman received a yellow for not adhering to the distance, and Blues midfielder Israel Sesay was visibly frustrated in receiving two successive yellow cards for the red in the 90th minute.
“I told (Magee) the other day that it would be nice for him to come help in the field once awhile,” joked Arena.
“The goal kinda lit a fire under us and we started playing better and it resulted in a win,” said Magee.
“Let’s give our opponents credit, they played quite well,” said Arena. When asked about the skill difference the manager had this to say, “We should be a little bit ahead of them technically and maybe professional fitness, but a lot of those players have played in the league.”
The Blues felt positive about how well they played though. “We have guys that can be on that team… credit for us to get a goal on a team that doesn’t give up many goals,” said Akwari.
The Galaxy will move on to the Quarterfinals where they travel to Seattle to face the Sounders on July 12.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Mike Magee
LAB: Cesar Rivera (Carlos Borja) – 62nd min. LAG: Omar Gonzalez (Juninho) – 75th min. LAG: Mike Magee (Omar Gonzalez) – 81st min.
LAB: Josh Tudela (Yellow) – 1st min. LAG: Gregg Berhalter (Yellow) – 8th min. LAB: Mehrshad Momeni (Yellow) – 70th min. LAG: Adam Cristman (Yellow) – 88th min. LAB: Israel Sesay (Yellow) – 90th min. LAB: Israel Sesay (Yellow / Red) – 90th min.
Lineups: LAG: Brian Perk; A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin; Mike Magee, Jovan Kirovski (Juninho 64′), Michael Stephens, Bryan Jordan (Miguel Lopez 46′); Chad Barrett (Adam Christman 83′), PaoloCardozo LAB: Oscar Dautt; Cameron Dunn (Leonard Griffin 40′), Melson Akwari, Erlys Garcia, Mike Randolph; Mehrshad Momeni (Akeem Priestly 87′), Josh Tudela, Edwin Miranda (Cesar Rivera 46′), Israel Sesay; Carlos Borja, Chukwudi Chijindu
Saves: LAG – 2, LAB – 5; Fouls: LAG – 16, LAB – 19; SOG: LAG – 9, LAB – 3; Attendance: 3,627