LA Galaxy II opened the 2021 USL Championship season Friday in hosting Sacramento Republic FC, but the visitors were not great guests, as a late goal from substitute Tucker Bone meant Sacramento won 1-0 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The result flipped the meeting between these teams in 2020, which LA won 1-0. But while Los Dos were the better team in the 1st half on Friday, they couldn’t get the goal to really take over the game and left the door opened to the experienced Sac Republic, who finally took over and won it in the 2nd half.
Junior Gonzalez handed out professional debuts to several Galaxy II players: Owen Lambe, Josh Drack, Preston Judd, Daniel Aguirre and Taylor Davila. Eric Lopez, Marcus Ferkranus and Kai Koreniuk all came down from the Galaxy first team.
Judd had a decent look in the 15th minute, stealing the ball and getting off a quick shot from outside the box, but his attempt sailed wide of the mark.
LA had more attacking intent in the first half but as you might expect in the opening game of the season, they lacked the crisp rhythm in all areas of the field. Both teams were very physical, with yellow cards handed out to both sides in the first 45. LA held a 6-0 edge in shots at the halftime break, but the two on target didn’t test Sacramento goalkeeper Tomas Gomez too much.
Judd had a header in the box in the 53rd minute, but it went straight to Gomez, who caught it cleanly, as both teams ratcheted up their attacking intensity in the 2nd half.
Gonzalez went to his bench for the first time in the 64th minute, bringing in Adrian Gonzalez for Koreniuk. Then Sebastian Nava came off the bench for Picazo in the 78th minute.
Sacramento found the go-ahead goal in the 82nd minute, with substitute Tucker Bone tapping in Shannon Gomez’s centering pass in the 6-yard box, which made sense in the run of play but was still disappointing for Los Dos.
Victor Valdez entered the fray in the dying minutes for LA, replacing Davila. Los Dos pushed for an equalizer but they could not find it and were left to rue their inability to score in this game.
I think it was a pretty normal season opener. Gonzalez integrated a lot of new faces, including a slew of rookies, and while LA were never really out of the game, they were not crisp and in full flow, either, and Sacramento’s very rugged approach disrupted them quite a bit. It will take some time to find some rhythm, but this was a good starting point for the group who I imagine have high expectations for the season ahead.
LA are not wasting any time this season, and will play their second game before many teams around the league have played their first, when they host Las Vegas Lights FC on Wednesday. Las Vegas are essentially LAFC’s new reserve team, so will this be a quasi-El Trafico? Stay tuned on that front.
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