Despite having not earned a win in any of their six regular season games during the month of May, the LA Galaxy can still close out the month on a high. Facing the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night, the Galaxy will look to move one step closer to the club’s third U.S. Open Cup title.
A sellout crowd of more than 7,000 is expected at WakeMed Soccer Park when the Galaxy and RailHawks meet for the first time ever on Tuesday night (4 p.m. PT on LAGalaxy.com). Despite LA’s position at the bottom of the Western Conference, it is always an event when the Galaxy hit the road and the players know that they will get the best from former FC Dallas head coach Colin Clarke’s side.
“They’re probably not having the start they wanted to this year, but I believe in Colin as a coach and I know they’ll turn it around,” said goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, who played for Clarke in Puerto Rico from 2008-10, winning USL First Division Goalkeeper of the Year honors in his first year with the club. “It’s going to be a very difficult game, he always builds very good teams – hard to beat and hard to play against.
“When you play for LA, almost every game is like that, it’s not something new. We know their team is going to come out here and give it their best effort for 90 minutes so we have to be prepared.”
Gaudette, who was called in by the Puerto Rico National Team for their upcoming friendly against Nicaragua, could get the start in goal for an LA side who played three league matches in an eight-day span from May 19-26, losing all three by a single goal.
With Tuesday’s game against the RailHawks coming on the heels of a taxing 2-1 loss to Houston that was played in extreme heat and humidity at BBVA Compass Stadium, a number of lineup changes could be made by head coach Bruce Arena.
“We’re just trying to put a group out there that is fresh and can win the game, it’s that simple,” Arena said. “It’s a team that we think can step on the field and play well. This is our fourth game in 11 days and with a lot of travel. We had a tough game at home on Wednesday against San Jose, a game in Houston on Saturday with a lot of heat. You combine that with the travel and coming here, we’re going to have to make some changes.”
But those changes still don’t change the task at hand, and Arena says that his squad will head into the game with one goal in mind.
“We’re going out trying to win this game,” he said. “We’re in this competition to win, not to lose.”
While mass changes could be seen in the back and in midfield, international absences and injuries have limited Arena’s options up front. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane remain away on international duty while Jack McBean just finished a stay with the U.S. Under-18 National Team in Portugal and Adam Cristman is out with a concussion. That means that the starting forward duo of Chad Barrett and Edson Buddle, who have each won an Open Cup in their career, could be paired together once again. The other forward option is Pat Noonan, a three-time Open Cup winner who came on for Barrett in the 71st minute on Saturday.
“We’ve played a lot of games in the last week, some of the guys need a break so that means some of the other guys are going to have to step up,” said Barrett, who was with the Chicago Fire when they won the Open Cup in 2006 under the guidance of then Fire head coach Dave Sarachan. “This is a great opportunity for people, in the Open Cup, people who haven’t been playing that much, even me, to get in there and show that I deserve to be starting with the (first) team on a regular basis.
“Overall we just have to get a win. It would be good for team morale and it would be good to take something back with us to Los Angeles.”
Added Buddle, an Open Cup winner in 2002 with Columbus, “Each game we want to win. That’s (our) mentality and I like that going into each match.
“I traveled all this way to play and I want to step on the field.”
With a win in Tuesday, the Galaxy will host the winner of the Third Round match between Chivas USA and the Ventura County Fusion, which kicks off at 7 p.m.
Watch or listen to Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup match live on lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive, starting at 4 p.m. PT.