Bouncing back from a 9-0 loss, the largest in your league’s history, is never an easy task, but LA Galaxy II had a good bounce-back opponent on Sunday in the Portland Timbers 2. T2, the only team with a worse record than LA in the USL Western Conference, proved to be just what the doctor ordered, as Galaxy II won 4-3 at Providence Park in Portland.
T2 took the lead, in fact, as goals from Jeremy Ebobisse and Max Ornstil put Portland up 2-0 in the first half. But Galaxy II scored four unanswered goals, from Tyler Turner, a brace from Adrian Vera, and Justin Dhillon to make it 4-2 at the hour mark. Even a late consolation goal from Timbers 2 wasn’t enough, as LA grabbed three vital points and their fourth victory of the season.
It’s a good sign for the club that they put the demoralizing loss to Reno 1868 behind them so quickly, and shows perhaps that Mike Munoz’s squad is slowly learning valuable lessons at the professional level. That said, the competition was about as demoralized themselves as can currently be found in USL, and it will be interesting to see if LA can go toe-to-toe against tougher competition, such as their next opponent, Tulsa Roughnecks.
One of the interesting subplots to the weekend is that LA moved to within a point of their local rivals, Orange County SC, who drew Phoenix Rising FC 1-1 on Saturday at Orange County Great Park. That game was a grind, one where it appeared OC would be hanging on for dear life, especially as one of their most important attacking players, midfielder Carlos Alvarez, was forced out of the game early due to an apparent ankle injury.
But Orange County, despite not controlling the run of play, kept the game scoreless through the first half and then deep into the second half, before a former player, Phoenix goalkeeper Josh Cohen, gave them a massive gift, when he handled the ball outside the visitors’ box. Belgian defender Roy Meeus stepped up to take the free kick for Orange County, and converted it, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 84th minute.
Could OC hold on for the unlikely victory? If they did, it would have been a pretty remarkable result, but justice ended up winning out, as Phoenix earned a free kick of their own in stoppage time and Didier Drogba, whose presence brought out plenty of new faces to an Orange County SC game, scored his own free kick to tie it up in the 94th minute.
So Orange County are unbeaten since returning from their long bye three weeks ago, but the last two games were draws where they had been leading in the second half. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and they still have at least three games in hand on the rest of the Western Conference, but picking up another win in the next week or two is going to go a long way in helping them actually climb up the table. Otherwise, their competition in the standings this year will turn out to be against Galaxy II, likely well out of the playoff reckoning.