The Galaxy came into the game off an emphatic 6-1 victory against the amatuer team PSA Elite in the 4th round of the US Open Cup. This week alone they have managed to score 11 goals with an overall +9 goal differential after two games. Meanwhile the Union were able to advance in the US Open Cup as well after winning in penalty kicks against the Rochester Rhinos. The Union were looking to get a good result against the LA Galaxy, a team they have not fared well against since joining the MLS in 2008. In 7 meetings between the teams, the Union has only managed to tie once and win once.
Even though both teams had mid week matches, they fielded pretty strong line ups in Carson, California for the start of the second half of the MLS season. AJ Delagarza rejoined the starting lineup for the Galaxy after a successful stint with the Guam National Team. Gyasi Zardes was paired up with his regular partner in crime, Robbie Keane, up top along with veteran Robbie Rogers in the back to provide support. The Union decided to field a defensive lineup with their lone striker being the very dangerous CJ Sapong. Maurice Edu was tasked with anchoring the Philadelphia defense in front of their short term loan goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre who deputized due to injuries to the regular first and second string keepers.
The visiting team began strongly as they attacked right from the start with two good chances just 10 minutes into the game. Even though the Union had a quick start, the home team went ahead just 23 minutes into the game after some good teamplay led to a chance for Baggio Husidic who scored off of a rebound from a Gyasi Zardes shot. It didn’t take long for the Galaxy to double their lead when Zardes set up Juninho for his goal just 12 minutes later. Zardes cut a cross back from the left hand side into the top of the box to record his first assist of the match. The first half ended with the score at 2-0, but the scoring did not stop there.
In the 55th minute, Zardes was able to get onto the score sheet after starting a play by threading a deep through ball to Keane. The Irishman dribbled just outside of the 18 yard box and put in a waist high cross that was met by a speeding Zardes foot to put the ball in the net and make the score 3-0. The Philadelphia team did not give up and was able to fight back and score a goal against the run of play. CJ Sapong received a pass from Andrew Wenger at the top of the box and was able to turn with two defenders on top of him to finish past Jaime Penedo. That 57th minute Union goal was able to give some hope to the visiting side and put some life back into them but it was very short lived. In the 59th minute, Juninho lifted a freekick to the far side of the goal where Omar Gonzalez was able to beat his defender and head the ball backwards into the path of Stefan Ishizaki who took set up nicely and volleyed the ball into the net to all but end Union’s hope for a comeback. The replay suggests that Gonzalez used his hands to get some separation from his defender, but it does not take away anything from the great volley Ishizaki hammered home.
The final goal of the evening came at the hands of Sebastian Lletget who was able to slot the ball into the back of the net with a great shot that beat his defender and the keeper to the back post. It was Zardes again who pulled the strings and found the second half sub trailing just far enough to get a good shot off. The Hawthrone, California native was able to record two assists and a very nice goal to bring his goal tally for the season up to four.
Even though the score indicates a dominant victory, LA coach Bruce Arenas did not think the score accurately represented the game. He told reporters after the game that, “I think the score does not indicate the game correctly. I don’t think we were as dominate as the score would indicate. We were pretty sloppy in the game, but having said that, we finished some great goals. At times we played well, at other times we didn’t play so well. So it was far from a complete victory tonight, and we have a way to go.“
Even though the home team was not perfect, they did quite a few some bright spots. Second half substitute Sebastian Lletget has been in great form for the LA Galaxy with three goals in three games to show that the 22 year old is ready to play. Baggio Husidic is also proving to be a lynch pin in Bruce Arena’s side receiving praise for his consistency and good play overall.
Meanwhile the Philadelphia Union will be looking to recuperate from this tough loss. Some key players, like Sebastian Le Toux, were missing from the lineup due to injury but coach Jim Curtin says,“Everyone has to take a good hard look in the mirror when you get outplayed like that.” Many players will be looking forward to their next match and attempt to leave this game in the past.
The Union will be looking to bounce back from this rough away loss with a home game midweek versus the Seattle Sounders. The LA Galaxy will look to continue its good form at home against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday.