The LA Galaxy may be proud to say they are the first team to win five MLS Cups, but their reserve team is also on the cusp of history, as the LA Galaxy II are the first MLS2 side to be in the USL Championship game (Friday, 4:30 pm PT, ESPN3/USL YouTube channel). Yes, in just their second season, Galaxy II are gunning for silverware of their own, though they are going against heavy favorites in the Rochester Rhinos and will be playing away from home across the country at the Rhinos’ Sahlen’s Stadium.
In many respects, LA are playing with house money for this game. Los Dos go into the final without the pressure that Rochester, who won the regular season title and only lost one game this season, have on their shoulders. It should also be noted that the Rhinos have considerably more experience than the title challengers. But don’t mistake that difference in experience and expectation with an inclination on the Galaxy’s part to simply be happy to have reached the title game. While LA’s squad is very young, the organization’s success in recent years, as well as the desire by every player to catch the eye of the first team staff and get a chance with the MLS side, provide plenty of motivation to bring home a league title.
Ultimately, the match-up of the game may come down to LA forward Ariel Lassiter, who has been on fire in the postseason with three goals in the playoffs, best in the league, going against the vaunted defense of Rochester, which let in less than a goal a game on average over the course of the season. If the visitors can get balls over the top or through the defense in to Lassiter or Jack McBean, the strikers will give the California side a real shot at winning. If those passes are cut out by the Rhinos’ defense, however, it’s going to cut off the Galaxy’s preferred mode of attack and will put the odds in the hosts’ favor.
Make no mistake, both teams are eager for the trophy, but regardless, the track record set forth by the Galaxy II in their two-year history is impressive on a number of levels. They’ve made the playoffs their first two seasons, have now reached the title game, and have also worked as a bridge for several players, like Bradford Jamieson IV, Dave Romney, Oscar Sorto and Raul Mendiola, between the MLS and USL teams. It’s an impressive start for the organization and given their track record, looks set to be just the beginning of a successful run, win or lose on Friday evening.