The Los Angeles Galaxy arguably have the most revered trophy case of any soccer club in the United States. More recently, it’s been success in MLS that has contributed to their stockpile of silverware. But after finding themselves in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals for the first time since 2006, the two-time champion Galaxy are relishing their opportunity to reach the Final of the 103rd U.S. Open Cup.
“We want to win this tournament. We’re taking it serious,” said Galaxy forward Alan Gordon. “We want to win trophies and this is the biggest North American tournament so we want to win it.”
Los Angeles hasn't exactly breezed into this semifinal matchup with FC Dallas. But the difficult road traveled has set them up for a serious shot at the title.
At first glance, the Galaxy began the tournament smoothly with a 4-1 win over La Maquina in the fourth round. But the game was not nearly as smooth as it would seem. A 10-men Galaxy side were forced to go to extra time after finishing regulation 1-1. They then scored a controversial goal off of a set piece to take the lead, followed by two late Sebastian Lletget goals that sealed the victory.
The Galaxy went on to travel up to Portland in the Round of 16. They eked out a 1-0 win over the Timbers in Providence Park; never an easy venue for visitors.
It was in the Quarterfinals, however, where the Galaxy’s Cup dreams looked bleakest. They found themselves with their backs against the wall, trailing 2-1 in the 77th minute against a familiar foe in the Seattle Sounders. But the Galaxy proved their toughness when it mattered most. They netted three goals in the final thirteen minutes, advancing to the Semifinals in dramatic fashion.
“Mentality, toughness and strength will never be an issue with this group,” said Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee. “Unfortunately we’ve been in some bad situations this year. We’ve shown a lot of character and good responses to adversity, so there’s nothing we’re going to see that we haven’t seen thus far.”
Los Angeles has always been an organization lauded for their top-tier talent. But even with a roster headlined by the biggest names this side of the Atlantic, the blueprint would be different heading into this season. Depth has been the name of the game for 2016, and now with the number of games beginning to add up, the Galaxy are reaping the rewards of their deep talent pool.
“We’ve had to rely on depth all year, and tomorrow is no different,” said Magee. “Whatever lineup we put out there is going to be a strong one.”
“[Depth is] a key factor in us being in the Semifinal with a chance to get into the Final,” said Gordon. “We’ve had guys out all year and it hasn’t seemed to slow us down. We always have capable guys coming off of the bench and contributing.”
The Galaxy's recent form certainly bodes well for their U.S. Open Cup success. They’ve gone undefeated in their last ten matches, with only one loss since May 28. But as the season continues with players competing in multiple competitions, both for club and country, teams can begin to spread thin and tire out.
Balancing multiple competitions is a dance that most managers don’t enjoy navigating. The Galaxy play three games in this week alone. It’s a difficult proposition to make: do you try to keep your players fresh for an MLS playoff run, or risk it by going all-out to win everything?
Galaxy Manager Bruce Arena acknowledges the difficulties of balancing a roster down the stretch, but he doesn’t want the narrative to get twisted. Winning every game is the motive.
“It’s very challenging,” said Arena. “All of the games we’re playing this week are important, and what I’m trying to do is position our team to win every game.”