US Open Cup: “Slow” LA Galaxy stunned by Sacramento Republic, 2-1

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The Los Angeles Galaxy was booed off their home field again after being shocked 2-1 and eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup by Sacramento Republic FC in the quarterfinals at home Tuesday night. 

“Slow” Galaxy stunned by Sac 2-1

It was L.A.’s first legitimate chance at a trophy under head coach Greg Vanney, but Galaxy players certainly didn’t play like they were competing for silverware, or even in an elimination game for that matter. 

He made sure to call out his player’s lack of desire.

“I felt like we just weren’t moving at the same speed and together. Today, I just feel like we didn’t adapt inside of the game. We didn’t have the right intensity. Some players did. Some didn’t. The right intensity to dual and compete,” Vanney confessed. “And, I don’t have a great answer, but I would say guys who continually do that, won’t play. That’s the message that they understand. Is, every player on the field has to play with the right intensity and the right intention. And not just play well, but play hard. And compete for those things.”

Instead of competing for trophies, though, they won a chorus of boos from the 12,315 G’s in attendance; the third time in the past five games the boos have rained from the rafters.

Lacking intensity

From the start, the Galaxy got it wrong, both in lineup and intensity. Gone was the desire they showed in the last round against LAFC. Instead, this was the side that put up consecutive, meek 3-0 losses to Texas teams at home.

They were consistent in one area, however. 

True to the season script, there was plenty of possession (64% to Sac Republic’s 36%) and slow cycling of the ball in the opponent’s third. Throw in L.A. having trouble breaking down a stingy opponent sitting in low defensive blocks. Efrain Alvarez, not passing or shooting with a right foot? Yup, add that to your Galaxy bingo card too.

There was even a sighting of a Kévin Cabral and Dejan Joveljić strike partnership that the fan base probably could’ve done without. 

And if you had the Galaxy giving up an early goal in transition at home again, well, you won bingo.

Chasing the game, again

Inside four minutes, Los Angeles was down 1-0 at home again to a well-worked counter-attacking goal by Sac Republic and had to chase the game. 

Republic’s Douglas Martinez fired a cross into the middle of the penalty area from the right flank that both Kelvin Leerdam and Nick DePuy failed to deal with. The well-weighted ball found Rodrigo Lopez, who rifled his shot into the right side of the goal to put the away side up before most were in their seats.

Unfortunately, the early shock didn’t spur the Galaxy into action.

An own goal scored in the 18th minute by Sac Republic’s Conor Donovan from an Efrain Alvarez corner brought the Galaxy back into the game. It leveled the score 1-1 but failed to swing the game’s momentum. 

The second half was more of the same. Not even the introductions of Víctor Vázquez, Julián Araujo, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who were rested for the California Clásico against San Jose, could spark the offense.

For all their possession, Los Angeles did not generate enough goal-scoring chances, only outshooting Republic FC by one attempt on goal, 4-3.

And the Galaxy was punished for it.

A long-range Luis Felipe strike, that Galaxy Keeper Jonathan Klinsmann should have dealt with, incredibly dribbled past him and into the bottom right corner of the net on 70 minutes.

“That just can’t happen,” Vanney said of the play that sealed the Galaxy’s defeat. 

Forced to chase the game again, L.A. showed little in the way of the creativity in the final third required to break down Republic FC.

For the final 20 minutes of the match, L.A. set up camp in the opposing attacking third, only to pass the ball around a lot and put in inefficient crosses that saw it limp to a 2-1 defeat. 

For Sacramento Republic FC, it was a historic night. They are now the first non-MLS team to reach the U.S. Open Cup semifinals since 2017, while the Galaxy will have to keep waiting for their first trophy under Vanney.

“This is something we can learn from,” Leerdam, who was made captain for the first time, shared in a press conference postgame.

Los Angeles will need to learn the lesson, and quickly if they are to get anything from their visit to Northern California this weekend. The Galaxy’s original big baddie, the San Jose Earthquakes, will host L.A. in a new edition of the California Clásico on Saturday night.

Vanney will hope his players show the same intensity they displayed in El Tráfico, against their other California rival, and put the debacle of the cup behind them.

 

 

Photo: Los Angeles Galaxy.