CARSON, Calif. — On Wednesday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park Track and Field Stadium, the LA Galaxy defeated NPSL side Orange County FC, 3-0, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.
The amateur side earned their way into the fourth round by defeating one other NPSL side, FC Golden State Force, and USL Championship teams Orange County SC and Las Vegas Lights FC. Through their run, they became the longest standing NPSL side in the tournament, earning a $25,000 prize.
The Galaxy started a core of their normal starting lineup with the exception of Sebastian Lletget and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who were presumedly rested, along with Jonathan Dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, who were away on international duty.
The first half proved to be quite a feat for OCFC, who entered the match as heavy underdogs. They held the Galaxy to a scoreless first half. OCFC head coach Paul Caligiuri made a substitution in the 36th minute, bringing Michael Bryant in for Tristan Webber, a tactical decision to adjust to the Galaxy’s style of play.
Possession was held by the Galaxy for the majority of the match, but they couldn’t break through until the 55th minute when 16-year-old Efrain Alvarez scored his first goal in a Galaxy uniform with a stunning free kick goal that lifted perfectly over the OCFC wall. From there, the tide turned even more favorably for the Galaxy, as they continued to increase the pressure offensively.
Six minutes later, Alvarez notched his second goal of the night on a tap-in finish assisted by Favio Alvarez, who worked his way past his defender.
Jun 12, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; LA Galaxy defender Dave Romney (4) battles for the ball with Orange County FCplayer Peter Gregory (8) in the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park Track and Field St. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
“For him it is very important that he got two goals,” LA Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said of Efrain Alvarez. “He did really well in the second half … I think the game was very important for him today.”
The final nail in the coffin came in the 90th minute when second-half substitute Emil Cuello found the back of the net. From just outside the 18-yard-box, Cuello was cool and collected, slotting the ball straight to the back post.
With the win, the Galaxy advance to the Round of 16. A draw will be held Thursday morning to determine the matchups.