In a knockout competition such as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, teams will often throw caution to the wind and go for goals, knowing there is no tomorrow.
On Wednesday night at The Home Depot Center's Track & Field Stadium, Chivas USA essentially did just that. Down a goal entering the halftime break, they came out in the second half putting out everything to get the equalizer. Instead, it opened plenty of avenues of attacking options for the Los Angeles Galaxy, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the oldest competition in the U.S. with a 5-2 victory.
The two sides came out with contrasting approaches to the game. Chivas fielded a team that resembled their full first team. On the other hand, the Galaxy were without the services of Tyrone Marshall, out with an injury. In addition to the absence of Marshall, Galaxy coach Steve Sampson sat Kevin Hartman, Landon Donovan, Chris Albright and Pete Vagenas to start the match.
The game was tight until the 89th minute when Landon Donovan and Chris Albright, who both came on as second-half subs, scored late goals to pull the Galaxy away. The first half went back and forth, with Chivas taking two different leads in the opening 45 minutes. But the Galaxy always had an answer and eventually took a lead right before halftime through Herculez Gomez.
Cobi Jones, Joseph Ngwenya and Gomez scored the Galaxy goals in the first half, with Gomez's strike proving to be the game winner. Ramon Ramirez and Douglas Sequeira each scored for Chivas in the first half.
With a one-goal deficit at the half, Chivas USA pressed more players into the attack looking for the equalizer. All that ended up happening was the Chivas defense opened itself up, and gave the Galaxy a host of chances to extend the lead. The Galaxy failed to convert any of their numerous opportunities until just before the final whistle.
The open spaces in the Chivas defense delighted Galaxy attackers the entire second half and really came as no surprise to Sampson.
"They (Chivas) want to play attacking football," said Sampson. "But you have to understand when you play with three at the back and you leave those spaces open, it's going to cause problems."
A lot of the Galaxy's effectiveness in front of goal can be attributed directly to sloppy play on the part of Chivas. The first four goals the Galaxy scored were officially ruled as unassisted, each coming straight from Chivas giveaways.
Still, with all the room the Galaxy had to work with in the final third, Sampson was a little shocked by the goal total in the game.
"I'm a little surprised that there were seven goals in this game," he said. "But again Joseph is coming back, Herculez is scoring every single game. I can't say enough about him and his ability to put the ball on target."
With the win, the Galaxy advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face in-state rival San Jose Earthquakes. The Galaxy knew who their next opponents were going to be as they walked off the field and they are looking forward to the chance to go up to the bay and exact some revenge.
"We were embarrassed up there and the way they treated Landon was appalling," Sampson said. "I think this team is very much looking forward to playing San Jose, even up there."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.