The head coach lamented his team’s sloppy play and lack of intensity, stating some of his players weren’t willing to battle enough in their 2-1 defeat to the USL Championship side at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“We didn't play with the same intensity tonight as we did against LAFC, as an example, or [in] some of the other games and that can't happen,” Vanney said. “Every time, we’ve got to play with that.”
Vanney said the Galaxy placed a priority on the US Open Cup for two reasons: the fast track to a championship the competition provides, and the experience in knockout games this group hasn’t had together.
“That’s one of the reasons why we went for it, is to have the emotion that is involved in a night like tonight good, bad or indifferent,” Vanney said. “Now we have to deal with it.”
The Galaxy trailed inside of five minutes when they were caught in transition. They rallied to level via an own goal, but conceded the decisive goal in the 70th minute when Sacramento Republic’s Luis Felipe wasn’t closed down and took a low, bouncing shot from distance that beat goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann to the far post.
“I felt like his reaction to get across the goal, into the dive and get in front of the ball was a little bit slow,” Vanney said of Klinsmann. “He hit it well, but at the same time from that distance with pretty clear sight, it seems like it should be saved and I would say he probably will say the same thing.”
The goal was especially big for Luis Felipe, a former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder.
“It was definitely good to score against them,” he said. “I’ve been facing them before and I’ve won against them before with San Jose, but I had never scored against them. It was great. Definitely a special match for me.”
Luis Felipe’s previous battles against the Galaxy were part of the Cali Clasico, one of the oldest and most fiercely contested rivalries in MLS. On Tuesday night, however, he didn’t see that same focus from the Galaxy.
“I honestly don’t think they took the game seriously and we took advantage,” he said. “We took our opportunities and went for it.”
According to Vanney, to win knockout games, whether it's in the US Open Cup or the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, a certain level of grit is needed. That was lacking against Sacramento Republic.
“I think there are some guys on our team that need to turn the meter, when it comes to just intensity and compete and fight, to a different level," Vanney said. "We have some guys who come out and they do the running and they'll do the work and they'll do some of the stuff, but in these games sometimes it's about being physical, it's about winning space. It's about winning first and second balls. It's about some of those things.
“I think sometimes maybe, within the mentality of our group, our mindset is a little bit like the game is gonna be all soccer all the time and it's not. The foundation that you have to have to play soccer is you still have to out-compete the opposition. You still have to do some of that stuff. And I feel like we're a little light sometimes in that category.”
Now the Galaxy must try and turn the page quickly, with the latest Cali Clasico on the horizon Saturday against San Jose at Stanford Stadium (10 pm ET | UniMás, TUDN, Twitter).