Bench steps up for Galaxy Academy in 1-0 win

CARSON, Calif. — With leading goal scorers Jack McBean and Justin Dhillon unavailable, as well as fellow starters Paul Arriola, Willie Raygoza and Nathan Smith, a handful of players on the LA Galaxy U-18 roster got an opportunity to make a case for more playing time against San Diego-based Nomads SC on Sunday.

One of those players, forward Aaron Lombardi, rose to the occasion, putting away the game-winning goal early in the second half of LA’s 1-0 win over Nomads at The Home Depot Center. With the win, the Galaxy (5-0-1 overall, 4-0-0 SoCal Division) extended their Development Academy unbeaten streak to six games and kept pace with Real Salt Lake-Arizona (6-0-2 overall, 3-0-2 SoCal Division) at the top of their division.

Lombardi, who’s goal in the 48th minute was his second of the season, pestered the Nomads all-game long. Whether it was from out wide on the left or as the lone attacker up top, Lombardi made clever runs to create scoring chances. The goal was the result of a terrific run by Lombardi behind the defense and a pinpoint cross by defender Oscar Sorto into the box, where Lombardi skillfully picked it out of the air with his left foot to beat the 'keeper.

There were a few other standouts, in the absence of regular starters, all of whom were out on official college recruiting visits, with the exception of McBean, who was preparing for LA’s MLS Cup Playoff game against the San Jose Earthquakes later that night.

Other players to make the most of their opportunity were goalkeeper Vincent Morales, who came on at halftime and made a huge stop on a one-on-one breakaway that could have leveled the score, midfielder Sebastian Velasquez, who twice came close to scoring, Martin Arrieta, who started at forward, and Juan Arellano, who made just his second start of the season.

Regular starters like Sorto, Drew Murphy, Josh McNeely and Ivan Vasquez shouldered the leadership responsibility, with Murphy showing his versatility by starting up front rather than in the midfield. Sorto and Vasquez made smart runs down the wing and provided dangerous crosses. Despite their advantage in possession and scoring opportunities, the Galaxy were unlucky not to score more goals.

After the U-18’s game, the Galaxy U-16’s also hosted the Nomads SC. Fresh from spending two weeks with the U.S. Under-15 National Team, goalkeeper Abraham Romero got his first start of the Development Academy season, playing 65 minutes while helping his team to their first clean sheet of the season in a 6-0 win over Nomads.

Five different players tallied for LA on the afternoon, led by Christian Chavez who scored a pair of first half goals. Steve Martinez, Alex Ramos and Adrian Vera also contributed to the Galaxy’s five-goal first half. Christian Onalfo, the son of LA Galaxy Assistant Coach Curt Onalfo, added to the lead in the second half with his first goal of the season.