CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are trying to look at their US Open Cup clash on Tuesday night against the Carolina RailHawks (7:30 pm ET, TWC Deportes in Southern California) as just another step toward a trophy they'd like to add to their cabinet, that what's occurred the past two years in Cary, N.C., doesn't really play a role this time.
It's a tough sell. The Galaxy, who won America's oldest soccer tournament in 2001 and 2005, have been eliminated from the competition by the RailHawks the past two years, and that doesn't sit well with them.
"I think we're sick of losing to Carolina [and] we're sick of going out of the Open Cup early ...," said Landon Donovan, who could make his first Open Cup appearance since 2011 in the fifth-round clash on one of WakeMed Soccer Park's training fields. "We are excited about it."
The Galaxy sent reserve sides, dotted with a couple of first-choice players, to North Carolina the past two years, conceded a first-half lead in a 2-1 defeat in 2012 and conceded second-half goals two minutes apart in last year's 2-0 loss.
This time they'll be bringing a full team, or something close to it, to ensure they snag a quarterfinal spot and a July 8 date at StubHub Center with the winner of Tuesday's Houston Dynamo-FC Dallas tilt.
"We want to win this tournament," defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. "We never want to go out there and just go out to lose. People are saying we don't take it serious or whatnot, but those games [against lower-division opposition] are tough. You see all those other MLS teams that have lost.
"We never want to go out there to lose a game. We've prepared like we would any other game and, hopefully, get a result."
They'll likely have the team for it. Donovan said he expects to play, that he told head coach Bruce Arena "early on that I want to play as much as possible in this tournament." Robbie Keane, who has never made an appearance in the tournament, also expects to be available.
"I'd imagine [Arena will] take a full team. It's a competition that we certainly need to win," the Galaxy captain said. "Whether I start or not is another thing. I can probably get some minutes, but it's a question I have with Bruce."
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MLS' World Cup break, which for the Galaxy ends with this weekend's California Clasico at San Jose (Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, NBCSN), helps LA in this regard. Their top players need minutes to stay sharp.
"I think in the last two years, in Bruce's defense and in our defense, we've had lots of games during the summer," Donovan said. "You have to rotate players, you have to give guys a chance to play. Unfortunately, the last two years we've gone to Carolina, where it's been hot, you've had a lot of travel, and you've had guys who haven't played a lot of minutes being expected to get a hard result against a good team, so it's been different in years past.
"But this year we don't have those games, there's no CONCACAF [Champions League], just one friendly game, against Manchester United [in late July], and we also need this to keep ourselves going and be confident heading back into the league. So we're taking this very seriously."