The LA Galaxy ended their U.S. Open Cup drought on Wednesday night. Now they get a chance to end another skid.
Gyasi Zardes scored on headers two minutes apart early in the second half, and the Galaxy rallied for a 2-1 fourth-round triumph over first-year USL Pro club Arizona United at the Peoria (Ariz.) Sports Complex.
It was just the third win in eight Open Cup encounters for the Galaxy under head coach Bruce Arena and ended a three-game losing streak in the competition dating to 2011.
Now they head to North Carolina for a round-of-16 clash next Tuesday against the NASL's Carolina RailHawks, who knocked the Galaxy out of the Open Cup each of the past two seasons.
The Galaxy, who were without Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, started a veteran lineup -- only forward Chandler Hoffman, among the starters and substitutes, has seen very limited first-team time this year -- and were clearly the better side by the midpoint of the first half.
That didn't make things easy: Arizona's defense was stout, and goalkeeper Evan Newton was superb, parrying a rocket shot and two difficult corner kicks from Stefan Ishizaki and then deflecting a shot by the Swede off the left post to prevent LA from opening a two-goal advantage.
Rob Friend appeared to give the Galaxy a 24th-minute lead, finishing a fine diagonal ball into the goalmouth from Ishizaki, but he was flagged offside, a call that replays indicated was correct.
Arizona went ahead in the 36th, when Matt Kassel -- one of eight players with MLS experience in the third-division club's lineup -- slipped between A.J. DeLaGarza and Juninho to finish a feed from Kadeem Dacres.
Zardes, who came close twice with headers in the first half, settled things in the first eight minutes of the second half. The second-year attacker headed home a beautiful chip from Robbie Rogers in the 51st minute, then nodded in a cross from Ishizaki in the 53rd.
Ishizaki nearly netted a third in the 61st, and the Galaxy held off a late Arizona surge, with Jon Okafor causing the most trouble, sending a long shot just past the left post in the 80th minute and a point-blank shot in the 88th that goalkeeper Jaime Penedo parried.