(Via U.S. Soccer) – Despite a 2-0 halftime deficit, second half goals from Efrain Alvarez and Ulysses Llanez and an extra time finish from Ethan Zubak earned LA Galaxy a 3-2 comeback victory against the Seattle Sounders and a place in Sunday’s U-17/18 Final against Texans SC Houston.
The Galaxy will now look to win the Development Academy Championships Final after entering the initial round-robin playoffs as the last team to make it into the tournament, as the 32nd seed. A victory on Sunday would be LA’s first title at the U-17/18 level and most recent hardware collection since the club’s U-15/16 team won it all in 2010-2011 and 2013-2014.
“Way too much fun for the fans, but it was not fun for us, as a staff,” LA Galaxy head coach Brian Kleibansaid. “Seattle had a fantastic start, a great first half from them. We recapped at halftime and went over the details we didn’t execute. Credit to the guys, they did what they needed to do. Tremendous personality and mentality to be able to come back from a 2-0 deficit against a very good Seattle team. We’ve overcome a lot this season.”
Seattle began to take command of the game in the 22nd minute. Slashing through a duo of LA Galaxy defenders, Paul Rothrock played in a ball from the right side of the box to a sliding Gregory Sutton, who displayed a great finishing touch with his left foot, on a volley, driving the Sounders to an early 1-0 lead.
Under two minutes later, Sutton put an exclamation point on Seattle’s control of the game. Racing down the left side of the field, Sutton continued his breakaway into the box, faked a left-footed shot to send his defender diving, cut back to his right and used his right foot to tuck the ball past the Galaxy keeper.
It wouldn’t be until the 71st minute that the Galaxy managed to get themselves back into the game. After a failed corner kick attempt appeared to be clear from any danger, Efrain Alvarez received a pass, took a couple small touches to get himself a little closer to the top of the box and simply pulled the trigger. The ball tucked just between the near post and the left hand of Seattle goalkeeper and U-17/18 West Conference Player of the Year, Trey Muse.
With the local crowd of supporters behind them, the Galaxy continued to push for an equalizer and found what they needed in the 78th. Switching the field from left to right, Ethan Zubak fed his teammate, Zico Bailey, who met the pass and sent in a cross near the right edge of the box. The effort found Ulysses Llanez, who buried the effort to even the scoreboard and ultimately, send the game into extra time.
In extra time, it took the Galaxy only seven minutes to completely put Seattle in a state of shock. After a deep ball by Alex Mendez got behind the Sounders’ defense, Zubak rushed on to put the Galaxy in front for the first time of the night. The 97th minute score would be all that the Galaxy would need, as the team would hold on the rest of the extra time to seal the victory.
Up next, the LA Galaxy will look to once again use their home field advantage as they take on the only non-MLS team to advance to this year’s finals from either age group, Texans SC Houston. That game will kick off from the U.S. Soccer National Training Center at 6:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, July 16. Fans who want to tune into the game can watch it live on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook page