DALLAS — Entering the day with their backs against the wall, the LA Galaxy Academy tried to engineer an unforgettable escape at Dallas Cup, but saw their participation in the tournament come to an end on Wednesday with a 3-2 loss to Coritiba FC of Brazil in their group stage finale. The Galaxy entered the day needing a win and some help in order to advance to the semifinals, but it was not to be for Alex Yi’s squad.
The day got off to a good start for the Galaxy when Manchester United lost 2-0 to Kashiwa Reysol of Japan. That result made kept the Galaxy’s hopes of advancing in the tournament alive, needing to beat Coritiba by three goals, and have either Aalborg BK of Denmark or Fluminense FC of Brazil lose or tie their matches
Following a scoreless first half, LA’s chances of advancement looked even brighter when they took a 1-0 lead and were in clear command of their match against the Brazilian side. However, two Coritiba goals in a two minute span around the hour mark, combined with goals for Fluminense and Aalborg quickly extinguished the Galaxy’s hopes.
With Fluminense and Aalborg each claiming 1-0 wins, they each advanced to the tournament semifinals, where they will be joined by Fulham and Kashiwa Reysol.
“I’m disappointed,” said defender Oscar Sorto, who captained the team for all three games, “we couldn’t finish our chances and we paid for that.”
After holding Coritiba in the first half to a 0-0 score, the Galaxy came out in the second half on fire. They came close to scoring five minutes after the break, then again four minutes later before finally breaking through in the 57th minute when Jaime Villarreal scored his first goal of the tournament by finishing off a cross from Drew Murphy.
The Galaxy were in a position to score again a minute later when Villarreal appeared to have sprung loose Raul Mendiola with a through ball, only for Mendiola to be ruled offside. A minute later, Coritiba forward Tiago Andrei leveled the score and two minutes later, in the 61st minute, Andrei scored again to give his side a 2-1 lead.
Even though they were trailing, the Galaxy continued to have most of the possession and were creating most of the scoring chances. But with less than 10 minutes to play, Andrei got behind the Galaxy defense and beat goalkeeper Juan Cervantes to complete his hat trick and give his team a 3-1 lead.
Paul Arriola pulled a goal back for the Galaxy in the 89th minute, scoring his second goal of the tournament to cut the lead to 3-2, however that would be as close as LA would get, finishing the tournament with a 1-2-0 record and a third place finish in their group.
“I was extremely pleased with the work the guys put in,” said LA Galaxy Academy Head Coach Alex Yi. “We can leave here with our heads held high. While that was a hard loss to take, conceding three goals in 45 minutes with the wind in our favor, the guys still gave so much, put their bodies on the line and represented this club, this league and this country with a lot of pride.”
Even though the Galaxy finish their first ever appearance in the Gordon Jago Super Group of Dallas Cup in third place of their group, the team did have some good performances in Texas and take away many positives from their experience.
“What I take is that we can improve,” said Sorto. “When we go back we have to train hard and not take anything for granted. We just saw here (at this tournament) that other countries are not better at soccer than us but that they are more dedicated— I don’t know if they’ve seen that but I saw it— and I think we should improve on that a little bit more.”