LA Galaxy Shut Out in Carolina in Robbie Rogers First Road Trip
Editor’s note: We won’t be recapping every game Robbie Rogers plays, but last night presented a unique opportunity: MLS’ first out player taking the field with another out player in attendance. Stephen Bickford recaps the match for us.
On Wednesday night, the Galaxy traveled to Cary, NC to take on the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks in the US Open Cup third round. The Galaxy’s lack of respect for the Railhawks, and the US Open Cup was extremely apparent, as the team traveled without head coach Bruce Arena, assistant Dave Sarachan, and the vast majority of their first team.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a blatant show of disrespect to an opponent, or to the game of football as Arena & Co. displayed with his lack of involvement and obvious disinterest in a perceived inferior competition, against an inferior opponent. One begs to ask, if you don’t care about the US Open Cup, why participate in the tournament at all?
The Railhawks took the field full of energy and confidence, having bested the Galaxy in the same round of the US Open Cup last year, also on their home pitch. Time and time again the Railhawks took the game to the Galaxy, creating numerous chances through the spirited combination of Shriver, Schilawski and Da Luz. Despite creating decent attacking chances, the Railhawks struggled in defense, even against a Los Angeles side lacking chemistry and cohesion. The Galaxy’s best chances came down the Railhawks left flank, with veteran Kupono Low being caught out of position on a regular basis. The Galaxy exploited Low’s deteriorating pace, and could have been leading after the first half without a strong performance from Railhawks keeper Akira Fitzgerald to keep the match scoreless.
The Railhawks continued to put pressure on the Galaxy’s defense at the beginning of the second half, with Brian Shriver and Floyd Franks both finding themselves in great scoring positions, only to falter when attempting to apply the finish. The Railhawks finally took the lead through Austin Da Luz in the 59th minute. Latching on to a Zack Schilawski cross, Da Luz managed an off-balance shot that squibbled in off a howler from Galaxy keeper Rowe. The Railhawks didn’t stop there, as Brian Shriver added another just two minutes later. Winning the ball off the last defender, Shriver stole in on goal and slotted home a very composed finish to give the Railhawks their second.
These goals prompted the Galaxy to introduce Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers in hopes of improving their offensive prowess. Rogers hardly put a foot wrong after entering the match, successfully completing every single pass he attempted, and causing problems for the Railhawk defense. It was puzzling why Rogers not only did not start, but didn’t even manage 30 minutes in Wednesday’s game. There could hardly have been a better game to give Rogers a start, and potentially even a full 90 minutes to improve his match fitness after just returning to professional football in Sunday’s game against the Sounders. Rogers, who recently became the first active openly gay male athlete in American professional sports, was easily the Galaxy’s most influential player offensively. Had he been given the nod from the start, perhaps the result could have been different.