Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Los Angeles Blues: It's Time for Some Open Cup Action

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IJune 22, 2011

Several weeks ago, I asked Los Angeles Blues manager Charlie Naimo about the possibility of facing Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

"Quite honestly, it would be a great opportunity for our club to draw some attention; that there is another great soccer team in LA besides the Galaxy and Chivas," Naimo said in the interview. "I hope it's an opportunity for us to draw some fans, and to teach people that we exist.

"Competitively, it's also an awesome opportunity to be able to play a level up. And just like it's a great opportunity for an amateur team to play us in the Open Cup, it's the same way when we get to play them, or just like when an MLS team gets to play Real Madrid."

Guess what, Charlie? Your chance has finally arrived.

The LA Blues of USL PRO and the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer meet for a spot in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, June 28 at Titan Stadium on the campus of California State University, Fullerton.

The Blues made it to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 victory over the Hollywood United Hitmen in the first round On June 14 and a 1-0 victory over the Ventura County Fusion in the second round on June 21.

As for the Galaxy, they received a bye all the way to the third round based on their regular season finish. The Galaxy are the defending MLS Supporters Shield Champions and are currently 9-2-7 (34 points), easily the best overall record in the league.

For the G's, Landon Donovan and David Beckham may not be available for next Tuesday's tilt, as Donovan is expected to recover from a long CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign and Beckham has nagging back issues.

In the 2011 MLS season, Donovan leads the team in goals with eight, while Beckham leads in assists with seven.

This means that other players will need to step up their game. Chad Barrett has four goals this season, while Juan Pablo Angel and Juninho each have three to their credit. Other key providers for the Galaxy include Miguel Lopez and Todd Dunivant, who both have three assists along with Barrett.

In the end, what could be the determining factor on Tuesday is who Arena chooses to start on the field.

Does he start the reserve side, who earned their first victory in Reserve League play this week? (More on that in the Ins and Outs) Does he bring out the first team to secure what could be a chance at payback against the Seattle Sounders? Or does he bring in a blend of fresh legs from the starters combined with the key contributors on the reserves from the victory over Vancouver?

Historically, Arena's Galaxy sides have de-emphasized the U.S. Open Cup campaigns in favor of the Supporters Shield races, the MLS Cup Playoffs and the CONCACAF Champions League. Whoever Arena decides to send out there could significantly determine the outcome of this contest.

If the LA Galaxy decide to give their reserves a shot, it may open the door to a surprise result from the LA Blues, who are currently 5-2-2 (17 points), good enough for second place in the USL PRO National Division, and who have plenty of games in hand over their opponents.

Players that the Galaxy may want to keep an eye out for are Argentine international Walter Gaitan, Antiguan striker Peter Byers and Chivas USA loanee Chukwudi Chijindu.

Gaitan and Byers have four goals to their credit this season in USL PRO. Byers is a recent addition to the side, having formerly played for Antigua Barracuda FC. Gaitain has also recorded three assists. Chijindu has recorded seven points this season and is tied for 14th overall in the league.


Prediction

Regardless of who Arena decided to send out, the talent and depth of Major League Soccer's best team is going to be a very tough ask for the Blues. Sorry, Charlie, but this is where the Galaxy take it from here in flying the flag for the Southland in the U.S. Open Cup. Let's try this scoreline...


Los Angeles Galaxy 3, Los Angeles Blues 0


Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET. A live blog of the match can be seen on Bleacher Report.


Ins and Outs

And speaking of reserves...

Finally! Curt Onalfo's Los Angeles Galaxy Reserves win a game. For once.

On Monday, the Galaxy Reserves defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1. Paolo Cardozo played a key role in the win, assisting on goals to Gregg Berhalter in the 27th minute and Adam Cristman in the 73rd minute of play. With the win, the Galaxy Reserves improve to 1-4-0.

The Galaxy Reserves will get another crack at the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday, July 5.