PEORIA, Ariz. – The LA Galaxy have heard the whispers and the accusations about the importance – or lack thereof rather – that they’ve placed in the U.S. Open Cup in the past, but as the club prepares to open the 2014 edition of the tournament, the message this year is different.
This year, the Galaxy insist that they’re in it to win it.
LA kick off their participation in the 101st edition of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday against USL PRO side Arizona United in the fourth round of the tournament. Due to MLS clubs’ placement in the fourth round, it is the first time that the Galaxy have reached the fourth round since 2011 after the team was eliminated in two consecutive seasons in the third round by the Carolina RailHawks.
Although the field conditions at Peoria Sports Complex drew scrutiny earlier in the week and temperatures are expected to reach into the triple-digits at kick off, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena believes that his team will be fine ahead of the match against Arizona.
“I think that it’ll be good at kick off, the field is in good shape and it’s not as hot as we thought it would be. It should be a good game. They’ve lengthened the field so it meets minimum standards and we’re fine with that,” said Arena. “This is basically our first team here and we’re prepared to play this game and win.”
One of those first team players expected to suit up on Wednesday is Tommy Meyer and the defender who started in both of LA’s Open Cup defeats against the RailHawks admits that the team is hungry for a prolonged run in the tournament.
“Bruce has made it clear to us this year that we want to win this tournament,” Meyer told LAGalaxy.com. “We always want to win every game, but we want to start the Open Cup off on a good foot because we’re not in the CONCACAF Champions League. This is one of our top priorities, it’s going to be a tough game and we have to be prepared.”
But why are they more prepared for the Open Cup than they were in prior years?
Meyer believes that it is all due to the creation of USL PRO affiliate LA Galaxy II where players like himself, Chandler Hoffman, Kenney Walker, and others have seen substantial minutes.
“Everyone is more fit than in past years,” said Meyer. “I know that going into last year that game fitness was hard to get when you weren’t playing as many games. I think that a good amount of people that are here have played in a lot of games and that helps us a lot.”
Fit or not, the Galaxy must still get past an Arizona United team that earned a 1-1 draw against Los Dos in April. While Arizona has struggled as of late with just two wins—including their 2-1 extra time victory over Oklahoma City Energy FC in the third round—in their last six games, Arena insists that his team face a major test.
“The game is about the Galaxy and the attitude that we bring to the game,” Arena said. “We’re ready to play and play well. There’s no reason to believe that we can’t win the game.”
And if the Galaxy do defeat Arizona then another trip to North Carolina to face the RailHawks is waiting in the wings.