Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Galaxy bounced back from two consecutive road losses last week with a spirited 2-0 win over LAFC in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 on May 23, 2023. The Round of 16 El Tráfico victory will be a palette cleanser after the Galaxy’s recent 3-0 away loss. It means the Galaxy advance to the tournament quarterfinals and are just three wins from a first trophy under Greg Vanney. With the Galaxy in last place in the MLS table, the U.S. Open represents their best chance for success this season.
LA Galaxy Post Match
WIN & ADVANCE ✅ #LAGalaxy x @AngryOrchard pic.twitter.com/zuvj9XbDSg
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) May 24, 2023
Another Poor First Half
On paper, this game should have been a cakewalk for the Galaxy. Starting lineups revealed that they would be fielding virtually a first-choice side. While LAFC, who very clearly have other priorities this season, fielded a lineup made up of fringe first-teamers and academy players. Despite this, the pace of the first 10 minutes of the match was frenetic. And the Galaxy found themselves lucky to not be down early to what amounted to LAFC 2.
The Galaxy grew into the game, however. It opened up after the opening exchanges, and they started to carve out chances. On numerous occasions, Riqui Puig found Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, only for the captain to waste the opportunity and kill the attack. They thought they had found a breakthrough on one, as Mark Delgado was brought down in the LAFC box for the penalty. Puig stepped up to take the spot kick for the lead but shot directly at LAFC Keeper Eldin Jakupovic, who managed to keep the scores level.
The Galaxy wasn’t much better on defense either. Fortunate to not have conceded, it took heroics from Goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann to keep the scores level. His saves in the first half gave the Galaxy the platform they needed to go out and win the game in the second.
READ MORE: 2023 LA Galaxy Season Preview: Riqui Shoots for MVP
OH, YOU THOUGHT… pic.twitter.com/uU8WeBsZ7f
— LAFC (@LAFC) May 24, 2023
Boyd Loves Scoring Against LAFC
Looking to spark the attack, Vanney brought on Tyler Boyd in the second half. And four minutes later, they had their breakthrough and the lead. After some good build-up play, Mark Delgado found Boyd on the right wing. Boyd picked up the ball, cut onto his left foot, and unleashed a rocket that Jakupovic could do nothing about. The play not only brought the Galaxy the 1-0 lead but sucked some of the fight out of baby LAFC. In the first half, they put five shots on Klinsmann’s goal, while in the second, Klinsmann was only forced into one save.
But it doesn’t happen without Boyd’s introduction. His ability to stretch the field as the Galaxy’s only winger was clear as soon as he came on. It begs the question, why not start Boyd if he is clearly a difference-maker for LA?
“Just always to be ready,” Boyd said of his substitution and goal in a post-match press conference. “They started me on the bench today, but I knew that I could come on and make an impact and help the team. And I told them I’d be ready when I did come on. And, it felt good to score again against this team.” It seems Boyd only scores golazos against LAFC.
Boyd Brought dat Heat 🔥 | @LAGalaxy #USOC2023 pic.twitter.com/9ZcvunWU1x
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 24, 2023
Riqui Razzle Dazzle Dances on ‘Em
If Boyd’s rocket took some of the fights out of LAFC, then Puig’s goal three minutes later completely flattened them. Although the Catalan had some good moments in the first half (in which they wasted chances to score) and generally bossed the game for the Galaxy from midfield, the final product was missing. Indeed, the final product has been missing all year. But not on this night in the U.S. Open Cup against LAFC.
After receiving the ball from Delgado past midfield, Puig went on a run, a dance, a jaunt. He got into the LAFC box in a flash, dribbled past three defenders, and scooped a shot over Jakupovic that the keeper just flailed at. Not content, Puig ran over to the LAFC supporters and brandished the iconic shirt celebration Messi made famous by holding his jersey in front of the 3252. Amid a shower of thrown beer and insults, Puig and the G’s had the 2-0 lead and the game.
“The truth is that it just happened during the game,” Puig said of celebrating in front of the rival fans and the goal that saw the Galaxy advance. “It is a fanbase that puts a lot of pressure and sometimes can be disrespectful, but it is what it is. It just happened, I am very happy, and it’s proof the LA Galaxy can own this city, and we went for it.”
They sure did. Thanks to this the Galaxy advance to the next round. And for one night at least, Los Angeles was blue, white, and gold.
¡Golazo de @RiquiPuig para ampliar la ventaja de #VamosGalaxy ante #BarrioAngelino! pic.twitter.com/Flz4didTAo
— MLS Español (@MLSes) May 24, 2023
Defending the Badge – Jonathan Klinsmann
There are no two ways around it. Klinsmann keeps LA in this game and the Galaxy advance because of him. He had five saves in a wild first half and ended the game with a shutout. Without his big moments, including this ridiculous double save below, the Galaxy would have gone into halftime down by two or three goals. He had very little to do in the second half but came up big again in the dying moments of the match to preserve the win and the shutout.
INCREDIBLE SAVE FROM JONATHAN KLINSMANN. 🧤 pic.twitter.com/WgKYF6zs80
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 24, 2023