Pete Vagenas

Yokohama F-Marinos drop Galaxy

In a game that lacked the hostility and tension of a regular season tilt, the Yokohama F-Marinos handed the Los Angeles Galaxy a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday night at The Home Depot Center. The home side looked disjointed and unorganized at times, understandable considering the number of reserves that saw the field.

Galaxy coach Steve Sampson delivered as promised and started a mixture of first team players and reserves for the match. In the early going, the majority of the chances fell in favor of the Galaxy -- to be exact, to the boots of Jovan Kirovski.

The first 20 minutes belonged to the Galaxy striker, as he forced three good saves from Yokohama 'keeper Tatsuya Enomoto. The most dangerous of the three opportunities came in the ninth minute from a free kick just outside of the penalty area. Kirovski hit a right-footed shot that found its way through the wall, but Enomoto was equal to the task, saving the shot at the near post.

The game would continue on without very much fanfare as the visitors soon found their footing. In the 19th minute, the F-Marinos registered their first shot, a long-range effort from captain Daisuke Oku. The shot sparked a little life in the Yokohama attack, and just minutes later Antonio Dutra forced a good save out of Galaxy goalkeeper Steve Cronin.

Cronin was saved himself in the 26th minute, first by his left goal post, then by Pete Vagenas. Off of a Yokohama corner kick, Ryuki Kawai redirected the ball past Cronin, but his shot banged off the woodwork. The rebound fell fortuitously to a Yokohama player, but a well-timed challenge by Vagenas blocked the rebound attempt.

Neither team created much until stoppage time, when the Galaxy nearly took the lead. A counter attack touched almost every Galaxy player on the field before a Naldo da Conceicao cross from the left side. Cobi Jones flicked the ball towards goal, but only found the outside netting with his shot.

Taking advantage of the liberal substitution rules in friendlies, both sides made several substitutions at the half, the Galaxy bringing on three more reserve players in favor of their regular starters.

It didn't take long for the scoreless tie to be broken. The defending J-League champion came out pressing the attack and just four minutes into the half scored the game's first goal, when Daisuke Nasu finished a free kick that originated from the left side and was left uncontested from 6 yards out.

As the half wore on, Sampson stayed true to his pledge of getting his players minutes. With the exception of goalie Kevin Hartman and holding midfielder Paulo Nagamura -- whose father is Japanese -- the Galaxy used every available substitution.

The Galaxy inexperience paid dividends for the Japanese side in the 76th minute when it doubled the score. Masahiro Ohashi took a free kick from the top left edge of the box.

Anticipating a cross, Cronin cheated off of his line, only to be beaten by Ohashi's service. The ball caromed off the crossbar, eventually finding its way to Hideo Oshima who made no mistake in finding the back of the net to complete the scoreline.

Greg Daurio is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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