Once again, the U.S. Open Cup title will not be returning to Southern California, as the final team left in the running, the LA Galaxy, lost 3-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Monday in the quarterfinal round of the 2017 tournament.
The Galaxy, playing on the road at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium, started the game as well as one would expect, with Jelle Van Damme connecting with the returned Giovani dos Santos on a corner kick, heading in the opening goal in the 4th minute.
But LA couldn’t hold onto the victory, as Chris Wondolowski tied it up just over 10 minutes later, and then scored the go-ahead goal shortly after halftime en route to San Jose’s first semifinal berth in the Open Cup since 2004. Even with a late goal for the Galaxy, officially credited as an own goal by Quakes goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell after the ball pinged around in the box, the visitors could not rally to take the game to extra time.
So the Galaxy will not repeat as USOC semifinalists this year, and they won’t be adding to the two Open Cup titles they already have this time around. From a Galaxy perspective, while I’m sure they would like a trophy any time they can get one, the Open Cup has not been a priority in what’s been a rocky first season under Curt Onalfo. That’s not to say Onalfo hasn’t taken the competition seriously — he’s arguably fielded more competitive lineups in general than his predecessor, Bruce Arena, who was famous for letting the chips fall where they may in the competition. But with LA racked by injuries and international call-ups, it was less a choice for Onalfo to field bench options who hadn’t seen a great deal of MLS playing time as it was a necessity, with many of the same players pressed into action in league play, too.
And with the Galaxy looking like they’ll be fighting just to get into the MLS Cup playoffs this year, perhaps it’s little surprise that their exit from the Open Cup may be considered more of a blessing — fewer games to play, after all — than a curse.
But Southern California, a region that is so rich in American soccer lore, past and present, has now gone more than a decade without an U.S. Open Cup title. It’s not exactly a moratorium on the region, but perhaps with more pro teams entering the fray in the area in the years to come, the Galaxy will get some help in being the torchbearers for this area in the Open Cup, and hopefully the trophy will return to Southern California in a coming edition.