CARSON, Calif. – Galaxy II forward Jack McBean can’t watch the match’s final 10 minutes because it’s simply too painful. Head coach Curt Onalfo said the memories remain unsettling even after five months have passed. Defender David Romney still is bitterly disappointed, and he didn’t even make the trip.
All of them were talking about the 2015 USL Pro championship game between Galaxy II and the host Rochester (N.Y.) Rhinos last Oct. 16. The visiting Galaxy II literally were moments away from the title when Rochester scored deep into second-half stoppage time to tie it at 1-1 and then won 2-1 in extra time.
“We were a minute away from winning the USL championship, and it ended in a very bitter way,” Onalfo said. ”I think that motivates us as we start putting our team together for the 2016 season.”
That season begins Saturday at StubHub Center, where Galaxy II will take on first-year Arizona United SC at 7:30 p.m. at the main stadium. The match will be streamed live on www.lagalaxy.com.
“Being so close last year and tasting it, 90 seconds away, motivates you to get back and win it this time,” said forward Jack McBean, who was named Galaxy II captain earlier in the week and is in his sixth season with the organization after being signed as a homegrown player on Jan. 31, 2011. McBean started 21 games for Galaxy II last season and had five goals and six assists.
“I remember everything that happened,” he continued as he talked about the fateful title game. “I think the coaching staff and the guys who were out there remember it, too.
“It’s a long season. That’s our goal, to get back there and win it this time.”
Romney, who played 17 games with Galaxy II but now spends most of his time with the parent club, watched the championship on television with his father Robert and couldn’t believe what transpired.
“I was thinking, ‘There’s no way this team scores on us,’ ” recalled Romney, who will play Saturday. “It was tough on me, and I wasn’t even there.
“To be that close and not get it, being minutes away, you can’t get any more motivation than that.”
Denzel Slager, a native of Utrecht, Netherlands is one of several new faces on the club along with the likes of Galaxy top draft pick Josh Turnley, midfielder Bryam Rebellon and defender John Neeskens. Slager said he’s already noticed the collective drive on this year’s squad.
Slager spent last season in USL with Orange County Blues and signed with Galaxy II in November. He also played in the Netherlands and with English League One side Coventry City before joining Orange County.
“I could see the motivation the first day I was here,” he said. “Sometimes our coach still talks about it. It’s important to win it this year.”
Onalfo said the goal for Galaxy II, who finished with a regular-season record of 14-11-3 before blitzing through last year’s playoffs, never changes despite a roster that is in almost constant flux.
“Every year my team gets younger, but we don’t use that an excuse,” he said. “We went to win. In the end that’s what’s required. That’s our focus. That’s the approach that we take.”