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Preview: AC St. Louis Meet the LA Galaxy in Open Cup Tuesday Night

David, meet Goliath.

The very young AC St. Louis team travels to LA for a 3rd round US Open Cup game Tuesday night at 9:30 pm CDT against the MLS league-leading Galaxy at the beautiful Home Depot Center.   According to Justin Pearson of the Galaxy front office, there will be no television or English radio broadcast of the game.  (A Spanish language broadcast will occur, but it is not available online).  There will be running commentary of the game on the Galaxy website  http://www.lagalaxy.com/  and the AC St. Louis Fanatic will provide a live blog as we did for AC St. Louis’ previous Open Cup games. 

Both teams come off scoreless draws this past Saturday,  with the Galaxy drawing against Toronto FC on the road while AC St. Louis held the first-place NASL Conference Vancouver Whitecaps goalless at AB Soccer Park.  Unfortunately for St. Louis fans, that is where the similarities end.  AC St. Louis is in last place in USSF D2 with a 2-7-2 record, although they are carrying a four game unbeaten streak in all competitions, a streak that includes four consecutive shutouts.  The LA Galaxy are dominating MLS with 33 points from 10 wins, one loss and three draws.  Their nearest competition in the standings are fellow Western Conference club, Real Salt Lake, and the New York Red Bulls in the East, each with 24 points.  The Galaxy have scored 22 goals while only allowing four, for a whopping 18 plus goal differential.  The Galaxy defeated famed Argentine club Boca Juniors in a May friendly, and begin CONCACAF Champions League club competition in July when they face off against the USSF D2 Puerto Rico Islanders.  The Galaxy will also welcome the iconic AC Milan club to LA for a friendly August 7th.

The Galaxy are led by veteran coach Bruce Arena, who has restored the Galaxy to their winning ways following the chaos surrounding the David Beckham signing in 2007 that eventually ended the LA coaching tenures of widely respected MLS coach Frankie Yallop and former Dutch international superstar Ruud Gullit.  The Galaxy’s trophy case is full, with two MLS Cup, two US Open Cup and one CONCACAF Champions League trophy, and Arena wants more.  Arena’s CV is as impressive as any coach’s in North America, with five NCAA National Championships at the University of Virginia, two MLS Cups, one US Open Cup, one CONCACAF Champions League Cup and one MLS Supporters’ Shield from his years with DC United, and of course his success coaching the US Men’s National Team, including their successful run in the 2002 World Cup before dropping a hard luck loss to Germany.  Arena coached the Galaxy to the 2009 MLS Championship game, which they lost to Real Salt Lake.

Arena has built the current edition of the Galaxy around a blend of veterans with international experience and quality youngsters.  His starter in goal is Jamaican Donovan Ricketts, who has 83 international caps for his homeland and is carrying an 0.31 Goals Against Average and has 9 shutouts in 13 Galaxy starts so far in 2010.  The impressive backline includes 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year Sean Franklin and 2009 ROY Omar Gonzales, along with veterans such as Greg Berhalter (43 caps, almost 200 games for German sides Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich) and Todd Dunivant, who has played more than 160 games in MLS and is considered by some to be one of the top left backs in American soccer.   Young AJ DeLaGarza, a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Maryland team, provides depth, as does St. Louisan and MLS vet Chris Klein (23 caps, 324 MLS games). 

In the midfield and upfront, Arena has a multitude of experienced talent to field.  Midfielder Chris Birchall is a Trinidad and Tobago international who played in the 2006 World Cup and featured at Port Vale and Coventry City in England.  Twenty-one year old Michael Stephens is a former UCLA Bruin who is currently third in MLS in assists.  Veterans such as Jovan Kirovski (34 caps, Crystal Palace and Birmingham City), Eddie Lewis (82 caps, Leeds United, Fulham, Preston North End, Derby County) and Clint Mathis (46 caps, Hannover 96) are towards the end of their careers, but bring tons of international and MLS experience and leadership to the team, and provide quality depth.  Of course there is another midfielder/forward, a guy by the name of Landon Donovan, who may be at the game but probably will not play following his return, along with forward Edson Buddle’s, from South Africa.  On the front line, Buddle leads MLS in goals in 2010 and is complimented by 19 year-old Tristan Bowen, who’s scored twice in seven games. Long-time Galaxy vet Alan Gordon and Bryan Jordan provide depth.  If this team isn’t talented enough, three loanees from six-time Brazilian champion club Sao Paulo have also contributed to the Galaxy’s success….Juninho, who plays in midfield and has started 12 MLS games this season, along with defenders Leonardo and Alex Cazumba.  (Former Sao Paulo players include Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Cafu and current VFL Wolfsburg stars Josue and Grafite).  Vet Mike Magee will not play Tuesday following a sports hernia injury, and of course an English midfielder named David Beckham is still out with injury.  

For the youthful AC St. Louis squad, they will play David to the Galaxy’s Goliath with all the intensity, fervor and excitement they can muster Tuesday evening.  They are on a four game unbeaten streak started under former Coach Claude Anelka and continued by new coach Dale Schilly.  Although Schilly lacks professional coaching experience, he has coached young players for 25 years and had his squad attacking and looking composed in his debut against the Whitecaps Saturday night.  With experienced pros  Steve Ralston, Manu Kante and Christian Nzinga gone, the squad will rely on USL veterans Luke Kreamalmeyer, Tim Velten and Jack Traynor, along with Brazilian Gauchinho and forward Elvir Kafedzic, to provide onfield leadership.  Second year pro Alec Dufty gets better and better each week in goal, and the defense has not allowed a goal in over 360 consecutive minutes of play.  Defenders Anthony O’ Garro and Zach Bauer are unlikely to play because of injury, and Elvir is still not completely healed from his knee injury, although he has been a substitute in the last few games. 

 In addition to the excitement of playing the renowned Galaxy team at the Home Depot Center, this will be a homecoming for AC St. Louis players Troy Cole, who grew up in Laguna Hills, CA;  midfielder Brad Stisser, who played at nearby Loyola Marymount University;  Dillon Barna and Hagop Chirishian, who played for the Southern California PDL club Ventura County Fusion last year, and Gilbert Pogosyan, who played at Pasadena City College.  Midfielder/forward Jeff Cosgriff is from Northern California, and hopefully his friends and family will make the trip south to the HDC Tuesday night.  I know Dillon Barna’s Dad plans to come up from Phoenix to attend the game, and Brad Stisser is excited to see old teammates and friends from LMU.  I’m sure there will be many happy reunions for AC St. Louis players with California ties.

On paper, the Galaxy are heavy favorites to win this game.  But games aren’t played on paper.  I expect AC St. Louis to give a brave, poised performance Tuesday night.  David did slay Goliath.  The game will not end as a draw– to my understanding, if it is drawn at 90 minutes the game will continue with two 15 minute periods, and would continue to penalty kicks if drawn at that point.  Good luck guys, and enjoy this wonderful experience that you have earned through hard work and talent.  GO AC !!!

Thanks to Justin Pearson of the classy LA Galaxy organization for providing information about Tuesday’s game and the Galaxy injury situation.  Join us at the AC St. Louis Fanatic blog for a live blog account of the game, and updates of other exciting US Open Cup action.

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2 Responses

  1. To your “understanding”? Why are you writing about something that you did not do your homework on and check the facts?

    St. Louis has no chance to win this one, as much as I love watching the team play. They have come a long way, but this is more than David verus Goliath, it is more of a game between Zeuth and the lowly pygmie.

    No surprises on this one.

  2. hmmmm, 0-0 at halftime…..

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