Los Angeles Soccer: Zack Schilawski
The Galaxy heads into Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup game in North Carolina without seven starters, and that includes David Beckham, all three established backliners and those two big names who are off playing for their national teams.
It's a reserve side they'll field for the third-round game against the Carolina RailHawks, but that no reflection on how much L.A. wants to win. Nor the clamor to watch them try to do so.
Winning a third title in America's biggest cup competition would be nice, sure, but the Galaxy could use any sort of victory about now. They're at the bottom of Major League Soccer's Western Conference (at 3-8-2) after failing to win in their last seven MLS games -- with four losses in their last five outings.
And stars or no stars, the fans around Raleigh and Durham snapped up the tickets as soon as they went on sale, all 8,000-plus, with the RailHawks adding a temporary stand to increase capacity at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.
“We know it’s a tough environment to play against,” Galaxy forward Edson Buddle told media in Cary on Monday. “I heard there’s going to be a few more people at the game than normal. ... It seems every team we play against, they really look forward to this game, and they raise their game.”
The RailHawks will need to. They're 0-4-5 in the second-tier North American Soccer League, and they've been struggling since former manager Martin Rennie, two-thirds through last season, was announced last August as the Vancouver Whitecaps' future coach, a deal took effect in November. Carolina was the NASL's best team at the time, and it is 4-10-6 since.
Colin Clarke, who guided the Puerto Rico Islanders (with Galaxy goalkeeper Bill Gaudette) past L.A. in the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round two years ago, is trying to restore some luster to the RailHawks. He's got an experienced roster, with nine former MLS players -- including veteran forward Jason Garey, who spent five years with Columbus and last season at Houston, plus former FC Dallas/Columbus goalkeeper Ray Burse and former New England forward Zack Schilawski -- and former U.S. youth national team star Gale Agbossoumonde, on loan from Portugal's Estoril Praia.
“We have a lot of talent, a lot of guys who played in MLS,” former Colorado/San Jose/Kansas City midfielder Amir Lowery told local media. “We’re not necessarily strangers to that level, so we’re not afraid of anybody.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena understands the lower division-versus-upper division dynamic that will be at work.
“It always does play a role [in these games],” he said. “Every time you play a lower-division team, they're certainly going to be ready to play, and the game means a lot to them.”
Eric Wynalda put together a team with a simple, perhaps unachievable goal: win the U.S. Open Cup.
Thousand Oaks' Cal FC took another step toward that Tuesday night, routing USL Pro side Wilmington Hammerheads, 4-0, in North Carolina to advance to the third round of the nation's oldest soccer competition, in which it will face Major League opposition.
Danny Barrera scored twice from assists by his brother, Diego, and the U.S. Adult Soccer Association side earned a date next week with the Portland Timbers.
Wynalda, an American soccer legend and first-ballot National Soccer Hall of Famer from Westlake Village, was on hand to guide Cal FC after missing last week's first-round win over Premier Development League champion Kitsap Pumas while he was in Munich preparing for Fox's coverage of the UEFA Champions League final. Wynalda is a studio analyst on Fox soccer broadcasts.
“Tonight was a good demonstration of what the guys are capable of, at times good and bad,” Wynalda told the Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews. “All in all, I'm very happy with them. I think they've come together remarkably, in a very short span of time.”
The Barrera brothers hooked up in the 25th and 57th minutes, the first on a corner kick. Former Real Salt Lake forward Artur Aghasyan made it 2-0 in the 35th and Pedro Ferreira-Mendes added another on a 79th-minute free kick.
The game in Portland will be played next Wednesday.
In the other East Coast game involving a local team:
Carolina RailHawks 6, PSA Elite (Irvine) 0: The Galaxy is headed to North Carolina after the RailHawks, from the second-tier North American Soccer League, crushed the USASA Region IV champs in Cary, N.C. Carolina will be home for next Tuesday's third-round clash against the reigning MLS champion.
Brian Shriver scored a club-record six goals, with a first-half hat trick, to lead the Railhawks. Zack Schilawski and Amir Lowery also tallied for Carolina.