“Obviously you’re going to bleed every precious second off the clock,” the announcer notes, as the L.A. Galaxy are nursing a 2-1 lead with only 10 men against La Maquina, obviously a fearsome opponent, given the Galaxy’s desire to nurse the clock. Wait, who are La Maquina?
They’re an amateur side competing in the U.S. Open Cup, and they advanced past a developmental team, a fifth-division team, and a fourth-division side to earn the chance to take a shot at the Galaxy (they were banned from the Spring League for brawling last December). The MLS team opened the scoring, as everyone expected they would, in the 15th minute, but two minutes later, Rafael Garcia lost his mind and earned himself a red card. The Galaxy had to play the rest of the match with ten men, and La Maquina scored shortly after Garcia got ejected.
Despite a huge talent gap and a gulf in possession time, La Maquina held on to force extra time. Unfortunately, the Galaxy took a 2-1 lead on a truly dirty play. Jose Villareal was writhing in pain on the ground as players from both sides were milling around. The Galaxy popped the free kick over, and, despite the obvious affront to the integrity of the game of soccer, scored a legal goal. The Galaxy, who sport World Cup veterans and huge stars, needed to connive their way into a fake-ass goal to take the lead against a team made up of non-professionals.
Even before the goal, things were pretty heated. According to the Galaxy’s reporter on the scene, La Maquina’s coach got ejected and there was also a fight.
La Maquina are folk heroes, it appears, as well they should be.
La Maquina lost their meager hold on the game after the fake-as-hell goal, and ceded a penalty to Sebastian Lletget and then another goal to Lletget. I have a hard time blaming La Maquina, however, since Lletget was a USMNT snub and La Maquina don’t even have a website. They looked markedly chubbier and shorter than their opponents—the contrast between teams was painfully obvious when they struggled to pass the ball in triangles, defend in space, hit long balls, or hell, tried to move and run—but they punched the Galaxy in the mouth and nearly got the win. The Galaxy started a dude with a handful of USMNT caps and played another who was in the Premier League a year ago.
In contrast, La Maquina’s president is listed as merely “Alex” on the UPSL website.
As they clarified via their Twitter account, La Maquina are a true amateur team. Nobody wants to lose on a specious goal in extra time, but La Maquina can leave with their heads held high.