It was a tale of two results in Southern California on Saturday evening, as LA Galaxy II and the Orange County Blues each kicked off their 2016 USL regular season campaigns at home. Galaxy II came away with a relatively easy 2-0 win over Arizona United SC, while the Blues lost 1-0 to the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.
LA picked up right where they left off last season, with breakout star Ariel Lassiter, now an official member of the Galaxy’s first team, scoring a brace in the opener. The first came off a penalty inside the first 10 minutes, as Lassiter was tripped in the box by Arizona defender Uchenna Uzo, and then converted the spot kick. He doubled his tally and the home team’s lead at the half-hour mark with what has become a trademark goal for the Costa Rican youth international, as he made a timely run through the defense, ran onto a ball from Rafael Garcia, and slotted it past goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski.
Even with Oscar Sorto getting sent off in the second half, LA held onto their shutout and recorded their first win of the campaign.
Meantime, just down the road in Irvine, the Blues did not find the same opening-day magic, as they fell to a Kyle Greig header off a free kick at about the hour mark and the Whitecaps 2 went on to record their first-ever USL win in California.
Oliver Wyss used an almost completely new lineup to open the season, with eight of 11 starters new to the team this season. The result was perhaps not entirely surprising, as the players looked like they were still getting to know each other, and Vancouver largely controlled the run of play throughout.
One returning player, midfielder Didier Crettenand, nearly knotted up the score on a terrific individual play in the final quarter-hour of the game, forcing a save from Sean Melvin following a slaloming run into the box, but the save bounced off the post and was eventually cleared.
The Blues will get a week to work on building chemistry before their next game, against Saint Louis FC at home on Saturday (7 pm PT), while the Galaxy II have a faster turnaround, hosting the same Saint Louis FC squad on Wednesday at the StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium (7:30 pm PT).