PEORIA, Ariz. – The LA Galaxy made it difficult on themselves, but two second-half goals by Gyasi Zardes lifted the Galaxy past Arizona United SC 2-1 to give LA their first U.S. Open Cup victory since 2011.
Despite falling behind in the 37th minute on Arizona forward Matt Kassel’s goal, the Galaxy battled back fueled by a pair of second half goals by Zardes. The victory sets up a date in the fifth round with the Carolina RailHawks, who have knocked the Galaxy out of the last two tournaments, on June 24 at WakeMed Soccer Field No. 2.
For a team that has made a habit of breaking down defensively during the MLS season, the timely strikes by Zardes were a welcome change.
“It’s difficult getting behind on the road but our guys came out in the second half and got the job done and did a good job,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters. “We had a few hectic moments but I think overall we had a good attitude and we played well.”
By and large, the Galaxy did perform well as they controlled the run of play for much of the match, even though they found themselves behind after 45 minutes. At the half, Arena was quick to remind his charges that if they continued to press Arizona, the goals would come.
The goals did come, and in quick succession, too.
Both finishes by Zardes were nearly identical as the forward was able to find the back of the net in the 51st minute and then once more just two minutes later off a pair of crosses from Robbie Rogers and Stefan Ishizaki respectively.
With his brace against Arizona, Zardes has now scored three goals in his last two matches and is hungry to add to the tally in the weeks to come.
“I saw in the first half I had a couple of opportunities, I didn’t put them away but the main goal for the second half was just putting them on frame,” said Zardes. “I thank my teammates because my teammates are the ones that got the ball in the box and all I had to do was just put the ball on target, which I did both times just to get the goal.
“I feel like the more I play, the better I get and the more consistent I get.”
And if Zardes rounds into form, he may be able to help the Galaxy finally overcome the rivals from North Carolina in Open Cup play.
“I am just going to go with my head in the game like I’m playing any other team and just give it my all,” said Zardes. “We want play anybody that’s in our line of work and going for it. They are an opponent to us reaching the top, and we want to play them. That’s how I feel.”