The only goal in the first half was all that was needed to lead LA Galaxy into the next round of the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after shutting out San Diego Loyal 1-0 in a Third Round match in Carson, Calif.
“It’s the competition, we want to be competitive. For us this year, it’s about winning trophies, this is an opportunity,” said LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney. “So, you know, take the game seriously. It’s a good team, I like the team, I think they do some good things. So you have to respect the opponent, you have to respect the game … especially if you want to do something in this event.”
Aside from being a battle between two Southern California teams, Tuesday night’s match was special because it was the return of US National Team legend Landon Donovan to Dignity Health Sports Park as the head coach of San Diego Loyal. Donovan spent 11 seasons as a player with the Galaxy in an accomplished professional career that can be summed up by pointing out that Major League Soccer named the league’s MVP award after him.
The first half of the match was endearing to both teams, as they kept a consistent play within the midfield. Neither team could hold possession for long and looked to be 50/50 throughout the first half.
As San Diego neared the goal in the first five minutes, Collin Martin was the first to make a shot on goal. He perfectly aimed for the far post of the goal, but just missed.
It wasn’t long for LA to try a hand at changing the score in their favor a few minutes later. In the 8th minute, Julian Araujo was able to get his head on the ball from a cross that just skimmed the side of the goal post.
These close opportunities continued throughout the half but neither team would be able to complete them.
In the 29th minute, Kevin Cabral took a short pass from his teammate but hit the goal post. A second attempt off the rebound from the post gave him the opportunity to finish the play for a 1-0 lead.
“We wanted to use this as an opportunity also, to get back to some things that I feel like haven’t been at our best the last couple of games, to emphasize some of those things,” Vanney said.
Falling behind, SD Loyal began to pick up the pace but they would only create minor fouls.
Loyal’s Nick Moon was just short of evening the score in the 44th minute when his shot went toward the corner of the post but it landed directly in LA Galaxy goalie Johnathan Klinsmaan’s hand.
That final attempt would end the first half of the match, leaving LA Galaxy in the lead.
A reflection of gameplay from the first half reappeared at the start of the second half. Both teams were eager to gain possession but kept it equal where neither teams were able to complete any shots.
Zavaleta ➡️ Joveljić ➡️ Cabral
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) April 20, 2022
The Galaxy had two opportunities at the beginning of the half where both shots were just feet away from the goalpost. San Diego found themselves in the same narrative and wouldn’t see any completions, though shots were just feet away from the goal.
Though the energy from both teams was at an all-time high while trying to concede another goal, no cards were awarded until the 69th minute when San Diego’s Alejandro Guido grabbed Kévin Cabral’s shoulder and dragged him down in an attempt to regain possession.
Final substitutions were made for LA in the last 15 minutes of the game, one of them being Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, which was his debut in a US Open Cup match.
With the new additions to the pitch, the intensity of the match increased ever so slightly but no major changes occurred. The gameplay continued to be a battle of possession with no completion of shots in view.
“At times, whether it was a little bit of fatigue, or just maybe the continuity of making subs and guys coming on, I thought we lost a little bit of that,” Vanney said. “We took and we got a little casual, maybe a little cute, and a few plays, we also thought rushed a few plays where we didn’t need to.”
Nearing the end of the second half, LA Galaxy created two more opportunities to try to lengthen their lead but would fall short.
“We got to keep just keep working. But again, good to get out of this game with the win and move on to the next round. These games can be tricky, like this one and we got through,” Vanney said.
The Galaxy advance to the Fourth Round where they will play a road game against California United Strikers FC, the last remaining team from the National Indenpendence Soccer Association (NISA, 3rd Division pro) on May 11.