LA Galaxy's Hector Jinenez controls the ball with Pat Noonan looking on. Photo credit: Carolina RailHawks
The LA Galaxy lost to the Carolina Railhawks tonight in Cary, NC 2-1 removing LA from the US Open Cup in the third round. They join Columbus, Chicago, New England, Houston, Dallas and Real Salt Lake on the list of MLS clubs that lost tonight to lower tier clubs in the Open Cup.
"It was a very special night," RailHawks coach Clarke said. "Nights like this are what it's all about."
The Galaxy sent back David Beckham and most of the starting back line from Saturday's match against Houston, but even with Mike Magee and Edson Buddle on hand to come off the bench, the mostly reserve side let the match slip away in the second half. Pat Noonan scored the opening goal of the match, but then the Galaxy defense continued to allow the RailHawks to get looks from inside the box.
"I think we were a little fatigued," said manager Bruce Arena. "We had used all three of our changes at that point. We had some unfortunate injuries...they were more aggressive in the last thirty minutes of the game"
Unfortunate injuries is a bit of an understatement. The Galaxy had to use all three of their substitutions on players who could not continue. Hector Jimenez clashed knees with a RailHawks defender and couldn't continue. Brian Gaul was given a nasty looking black eye. Chad Barrett had an ankle injury.
One positive takeaway from this match for the Galaxy is the competitive return of Leonardo. He played 45 minutes in a reserve league match before getting listed in the 18 for the last two matches, but tonight went the full 90. The plan wasn't to give him that many minutes, but with the injuries he was asked to stick it out.
With so many MLS clubs dismissed from the tournament, it's worth looking at the bigger picture. With MLS taking a break for summer International matches, it became necessary to squeeze in some weekday matches leading up to the break. The side effect of this was coaches having to rest players they may have otherwise used. Last year the Galaxy fielded a similarly reserve laden side, but it did include the usual starting back line.
Clearly it's a factor as even Real Salt Lake, who bought the right to host their US Open Cup match, went down in a blaze of glory. International play featuring MLS stars like Landon Donovan and Kyle Beckerman does more to promote MLS than a bunch of Open Cup matches streamed for a few thousands on the internet, but it's clear that MLS is over scheduling itself. Which means once again, the scheduling committee has some tweaks to make over the winter break.