And then there was one.
LA Galaxy defeated Orange County SC 3-1 on Wednesday at the StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium in the fourth round of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, to advance in the tournament and be the final team from Southern California in this year’s Open Cup.
The Galaxy, entering the USOC in the fourth round alongside the rest of the American MLS teams, fielded a lineup that was nearly all reserves, with Jelle Van Damme the only player who would absolutely be in the Galaxy first-choice XI if the entire roster was healthy and available. While many of the players, like Rafael Garcia and Nathan Smith, have a fair amount of MLS minutes this year, the profile of the side on the whole was that of an LA Galaxy II side playing for the first team for the night.
Regardless, that was enough to get the win, as three players who have bounced between the MLS and USL teams, Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean and Ariel Lassiter, scored for the hosts. Villarreal set the tone midway through the first half, taking a speculative shot from way outside the box that beat Orange County goalkeeper Charlie Lyon to put LA ahead. With about 10 minutes before halftime, McBean drew and then converted a penalty kick, which put the Galaxy up 2-1, and Lassiter scored on a corner kick in the second half to get an important insurance tally to ensure the result.
On the other side, Orange County lost but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Roy Meeus scored his second goal of the 2017 Open Cup between the first and second Galaxy goals off a corner kick routine, with Ami Pineda’s low service being redirected through traffic by the Belgian to temporarily tie up the match.
In the second half, OCSC had sustained spells of pressure on the Galaxy backline, and if not for the heroics of LA goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who stopped around four outstanding close-range chances in the second 45, Orange County should have tied the game and probably even taken the lead themselves.
But in the end, the experience of the Galaxy players — more through the amount of time these players have trained and played together than their ages — won out over the upstart visitors, who nonetheless made their deepest run ever in the Open Cup.
Next up for the Galaxy: Another favorable opponent in Sacramento Republic FC, to be played June 27 or 28. The Galaxy will host this game as well, and given the rivalry between Sacramento and Galaxy II in USL play, this should be a great game.