FRESNO, Calif. – First game and a first win for LA Galaxy II.
Travis Bowen and Raul Mendiola scored while goalkeeper Cody Laurendi made five saves as the newly formed USL PRO side defeated the Fresno Fuego 2-1 on Saturday at Chukchansi Park in their inaugural match.
"It was a really good exercise for us," Onalfo told LAGalaxy.com. "Any time you put on the Galaxy jersey, you want to win. From that standpoint, I was pleased, but there were some good things and a few bad things, but it is preseason. We're just nine days into the preseason and this is all part of the process. There's a lot that we can build on as we move forward."
Galaxy II scored their first ever goal in the 11th minute when Bowen, the older brother of former Galaxy Homegrown Product Tristan, capitalized on a turnover by Fuego goalkeeper Beau Diaz and poked the loose ball into the net. Galaxy II continued to turn the screws on the PDL side as the half wore on, spearheaded by the influential play of LA Homegrown forward Jack McBean, who frequently tested the Fuego defenders.
In the 22nd minute, Galaxy II added another as an Oscar Sorto cross found a waiting McBean who laid off a pass into the path of Raul Mendiola who finished emphatically.
Said Onalfo of Mendiola, "He didn't get the ball as much, he had one occasion where he got the ball in a great spot and just credit to him. It was a great finish."
The Fuego battled back in the waning moments of the first half, forcing Galaxy II ‘keeper Cody Laurendi to push a Paul Islas shot over the bar. But, on the ensuing set piece, defender Cody Ellison smashed a Milton Blanco corner into the back of the net to cut Galaxy II’s lead in half.
At the start of the second half, Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo made almost wholesale changes as only Laurendi, midfielder Aleksandar Djokovic and Academy starlet Jaime Villarreal, who came on late in the first half for Bowen, stayed on.
After Galaxy II dominated much of the first half, the Fuego roared back in the second half, but were unable to get by Laurendi. The Galaxy II ‘keeper made three saves in the second half including an acrobatic stop on a Milton Blanco free kick to preserve the victory for the USL PRO side.
With Laurendi keeping the Fuego off the board, LA nearly doubled their lead twice but could not score as Laurent Courtois saw a free kick sail high while Galaxy U-18 leading goal scorer Adonis Amaya had a scoring opportunity of his own fail to find the net just minutes later.
All four Galaxy Academy players who traveled with the team suited up at some point in the match as local boy Eljiah Martin came on in the closing stages in front of a dozen of his family and friends.
Galaxy II will return to action next Saturday when they take on the LA first team in the inaugural “White vs. Blue Game” on Feb. 22 at StubHub Center.
"Our focus is getting better each day," said Onalfo. "We'll get the guys ready. It'll be a fun match for everybody."
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com