PARK CITY A little more than 12 hours after the Los Angeles Galaxy put on a clinic at Rice-Eccles Stadium on how not to score goals, the Galaxy reserves saved a little face for the senior squad.
Spurred on by a first-half penalty by Joseph Ngwenya, and then second-half goals by Herculez Gomez and Ngwenya, the Galaxy knocked off the Real Salt Lake reserves 3-1 at Trailside Park in Park City in front of nearly 500 fans.
"In the second half, we stopped pressuring the ball, and were giving the ball away," said RSL assistant coach Peter Mellor.
In many ways, Sunday's game was a copy of the 4-2 Galaxy win when these teams met in Los Angeles on April 10. In that game, Salt Lake scored early in the second half to level game, only to give up a pair of goals in the final 15 minutes.
In the rematch in Park City, Real defender Michael Lookingland chested in a corner kick by Leighton O'Brien to level the score at 1-1 in the 53rd minute. The corner was the result of excellent work by Jamie Watson, whose back-heel pass created a one-on-one situation for teammate Seth Trembly against L.A. keeper Steve Cronin. Trembly tried chipping the ball over Cronin, who tipped the ball just enough to redirect it wide.
The momentum generated by the equalizer was short-lived.
Gomez, a former San Diego Gaucho who played some heated games with the Utah Blitzz for a couple of years, scored on a corner kick in the 65th minute to help the Galaxy regain the lead.
Seven minutes later, Ngwenya tallied his second goal to seal the victory.
"Compared with the first game against these guys, I was more pleased today with our overall performance," said Mellor. "It's a learning curve for a lot of these guys with little experience. Hopefully every minute helps."
While only a handful RSL's reserves had any MLS experience prior to this year, the Galaxy reserves are overflowing with experience. Defenders Pablo Chinchilla and Michael Umana have both spent time with the Costa Rican National Team.
For RSL's coaching staff, perhaps more disappointing than the result was how it transpired.
With forward Jason Kreis suspended for this Wednesday's senior squad game with Chivas USA, and Trinidad & Tobago internationals Leslie Fitzpatrick and Marlon Rojas both being called into national team camp until Thursday, the coaches need to fill a few holes in the lineup.
"Overall, there was really nobody that stepped up," said Mellor. "That was a little disappointing because that's a great opportunity for the experienced guys in particular to step up."The loss dropped RSL's reserves to 0-2-1, while Los Angeles improved to 3-0-0.