LA Galaxy II and the Orange County Blues will meet at the StubHub Center complex on Saturday, July 2nd in the second edition of the 405 Derby of the 2016 season. With both teams again in the top half of the Western Conference standings, there is certainly more on the line than just local bragging rights.
It will be interesting on the Galaxy II side to see who lines up for this game, given how many of its players have been with LA’s MLS side, especially this week. Raul Mendiola and Jack McBean started the Galaxy’s U.S. Open Cup win in Portland on Wednesday, while Galaxy II regulars Lee Nishanian, Oscar Sorto and Alejandro Covarrubias all made the trip to Portland and were included in the 18. Given the relatively short trip home and the fact this USL game will be played at home, some or all of those players could suit up on Saturday night, but LA coach Curt Onalfo may opt to look at some less experienced players on the night.
Both teams are coming off wins, something that should have them confident, although the Blues’ season has seldom featured much consistency and winning last time out doesn’t always mean much. That said, OC’s best stretch of the season, when they went four games unbeaten including three consecutive wins, was kicked off with their first meeting against Galaxy II, when the teams played to a 1-1 draw on April 8. If they can hit a similar run this time, they should vault up the standings.
And that is going to be the bigger objective at this stage in the season. While we’re at about the halfway point of the USL regular season, the sheer number of teams in each conference makes each game quite important for getting into the playoff positions and from there jockeying for a seed. LA are in third place at present, just three points behind conference leaders Vancouver, so a win could move them closer to the top. Meanwhile, the Blues sit in seventh place, a solid position at the moment but one where they need to keep picking up points to solidify their playoff bonafides come season’s end.
This is the second of four regular-season meetings this year between the local SoCal rivals, and it will also be interesting to see if the rivalry kicks on as the season progresses, either in feistiness on the field or in the all-time series, something LA controls but the Blues are making inroads in this season and last.
LA Galaxy II vs. Orange County Blues kicks off at 7:30 pm PT on Saturday at the StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium. If you can’t make it to the game, you can watch the stream on YouTube or the league’s matchcenter for the game.