DALLAS-- The LA Galaxy Academy never lost faith.
Not even when, after dominating the first 40 minutes of play, Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany drew first blood and took a 1-0 lead just before halftime. The Galaxy had played a good first half, they knew they matched up well against the Germans.
"Going into halftime our heads weren't down," said forward Paul Arriola. "We weren't lacking confidence. We knew this game could be ours if we wanted too." And they did.
The Galaxy scored twice in the second half to beat Frankfurt 2-1 in their opening game of the 34th annual Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup. Arriola, who joined the team in Dallas on Saturday after playing two games with U.S. U-18 National Team in Europe, equalized for LA on the hour mark before midfielder Drew Murphy scored the dramatic game-winner in the 90th minute.
"We knew it was going to come as long as we kept pushing and playing as a team," said Arriola. "And sure enough it did."
Arriola started the comeback with his equalizer in the 60th minute. After receiving a ball 35 yards from goal on the right flank, Arriola ran at a retreating Frankfurt defense and juked past a defender at the edge of the box before unleashing a powerful right-footed shot that beat the keeper to the near post, tying the score at 1-1.
"Once we got the first one we knew the second one was going to come," said Murphy. "It was just a matter of time.
"Luckily it came at the end of the game and timing couldn't have been better."
With time running out, and the Galaxy still pushing forward, forward Jaime Villarreal was pulled down on the edge of the box, giving his team a freekick. Murphy, who led the Galaxy U-18’s in scoring last season with 12 goals, bent a low freekick around the wall and just inside the far post, beating the dive of Frankfurt’s goalkeeper for the game-winning goal.
"I had a previous free kick around the same area earlier in the game, but I hit it right at the wall," said Murphy, who had spotted a weakness in the wall on that attempt. "So I took a different approach, the goalie was kind of cheating behind the wall and I figured if I put it low enough and hard enough by the time the he saw [the ball], it would be too late to react. And that's what happened. Fortunately enough it went in."
The Galaxy are back on the field Monday morning against England's Fulham FC, who beat the tournament's defending champion Coritiba 3-1 on Sunday, at 10 a.m. on the campus of the University of Texas in Dallas.
With both teams tied at the top of their group with three points, a win against Fulham would place the Galaxy in first place of Group A and in prime position to advance to the semifinals. Only the three group winners and the best second place team make it to the next round.