Galaxy shuts out depleted LAFC to reach U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals

LOS ANGELES — Playing an “El Trafico” unlike any other on Tuesday night, the Galaxy rebuffed a fourth straight loss to the Los Angeles Football Club, which showed up to its home field with the strange luxury of not worrying much about the outcome.

For the second straight season, the Galaxy ousted LAFC to advance to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.

Goals early in the second half by Tyler Boyd and Riqui Puig made it an uneventful finish at BMO Stadium.

By claiming another Round of 16 victory against their heated rival in America’s oldest soccer tournament, this time 2-0, the struggling Galaxy gave themselves something to look forward to despite residing at the bottom of the MLS standings through the first third of the season.

Entering the 19th “El Trafico” off a two-game road trip that yielded a pair of shutout losses, the five-time league champions had every incentive to run with a first-choice starting lineup that included the Spaniard Puig and Mexican captain Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

LAFC, regardless of the intensity and bragging rights that always accompany these matchups, was incentivized not to – especially considering that its team captain, Carlos Vela, was injured in the match last year.

Choosing a mixed lineup that elevated many of the young players responsible for a U.S. Open triumph in Monterey two weeks ago, LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo clearly prioritized the health and safety of key players eight days out from the start of the two-leg CONCACAF Champions League final.

Assorted LAFC2 and homegrown players were boosted by first-team attackers Mahala Opoku, Stipe Biuk and Mateusz Bogusz in the opening half, but they failed to capitalize on a variety of chances that tested Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann.

Scoreless at halftime thanks to a penalty kick attempt by Puig that was saved by veteran LAFC goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, who also started in Monterey, Boyd changed the tide of the match shortly after he entered.

In the 52nd minute, Boyd slammed a wicked left-footed shot inside the box to get his team on the board for the first time in more than three hours of game time. Three minutes later, Puig danced through three LAFC defenders before chipping Jakupovic to seal the desperately needed win for the Galaxy.

More to come on this story.

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