It took longer than expected, but quality shined through as the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated AC St.Louis 2-0 on Tuesday night in U.S. Open Cup play. St. Louis arrived at the Home Depot Center with dreams of an upset by staying organized defensively and by launching speculative shots from distance. The strategy worked for 45 minutes, but it wasn't enough to defeat Major League Soccer's top side as goals by Chris Klein and Juninho made the difference.
St. Louis were the most active side in the first half and although they didn't put many chances on the Galaxy's net, but by putting pressure on Los Angeles' midfield. However, as the game wore on, the Division Two side wore down and began conceding a number of chances late in the second half. The Galaxy finally broke through in the 69th minute when Chris Klein, a native of St. Louis delivered a beautiful shot into the top left corner of the net from 20 yards out. It was Klein's first goal since May 2008.
"We knew that they were going to sit back a little bit so we had to break them down," said Klein. "The worst thing that you can think is that they're a league below and we should be killing them, but we were patient and the goals came."
The Galaxy doubled their lead in the 80th minute when Brazilian midfielder Juninho added a second goal from with a 17-yard-shot that curled over the head of St. Louis goalkeeper Alec Dufty. The goal was the midfielder's first goal in a Galaxy uniform.
The US Open Cup is only one of two other competitions that the Galaxy are involved in this year including MLS league play and the CONCACAF Champions League. With a great deal of schedule congestion, the Galaxy will need to rely on their impressive depth to remain competitive in all tournaments.
"They have structured the roster so that we have 24 guys who can play," said Klein. "We have a lot of competitions and a lot of games and we want to win everything that we're in this year and in years past it would have been the same group playing in every game but now we have a larger rotation."
With the victory, it is the first time that Los Angeles advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup since 2006. The club will now await the winner of the Portland and Seattle match up on Wednesday. Should the Timbers win, the Galaxy would play them at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday July 7th. If Seattle comes out on top then the Galaxy would travel to the Pacific Northwest to play the Sounders for the second time in four days.
The Galaxy will prepare to take on the Sounders on July 4th, their first match at home in over a month. Los Angeles will have a big boost in the form of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan who are due to return to training later this week. After Tuesday's victory, Head Coach Bruce Arena said that it was "likely" that the pair would play on Sunday.