Riverhounds rally past LA Galaxy II to stay in playoff hunt

Matt Grubba
| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, 9:51 p.m.

As playoff time nears, the Riverhounds are staying in the hunt.

Joseph Ngwenya, Danny Earls and Kevin Kerr scored to lead the Riverhounds back from an early deficit for a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy II at Highmark Stadium on Saturday.

The Riverhounds (6-11-5) have won five of their last seven matches to move from last place to three points out of the final playoff spot in USL Pro. They picked up this win without leading scorer Jose Angulo, who missed the match with a high-ankle sprain suffered last week against Sacramento.

“We can't replace Jose man for man in the squad,” Kerr said. “When he's off, everyone knows they have to step up a little bit, and I think we did that with three goals and three scorers.”

Jose Villarreal scored for the lone goal for the Galaxy (11-7-4).

Earls netted the winner six minutes before halftime on a free kick from the right side. His curling, left-footed cross took a bounce and skipped into the left side of the net, while Galaxy goalkeeper Cody Lavrendi was frozen by Riverhounds players Andrew Marshall and Jason Johnson charging through to get a deflection.

“You're told as a kid to aim for the back stick,” Earls said. “JJ and Marshall were going to crash the keeper, and it was in the right place at the right time.”

Ngwenya tied the score by tapping home a rebound at the 30-minute mark. Kerr sent a cross into the box from the right side that Jason Johnson headed on goal. Lavrendi made the low save but straight to the feet of Ngwenya.

Kerr added the third goal in the 77th minute by streaking down the middle of the field to get a head to a long Matt Dallman cross from the right side.

“Everyone knows we didn't get off to the start (of the season) that we wanted, but we're trying to make amends and hope it's not too late. With our form and the points coming in, we still believe we can make the playoffs,” Kerr said.

“With the players we have, it was only a matter of time before the wins started coming,” Earls said. “Now we're getting a bit of luck, and we're pushing back up the league hoping to make the playoffs.”

The Galaxy got on the board first when Raul Mendiola sent Villarreal toward goal down the right side. Villarreal chipped a shot over charging goalkeeper Michael Lisch, and Marshall couldn't chase it down before it crossed the goal line.

That goal was one of the only two major negatives for the Riverhounds. The other came in the 68th minute, when interim coach Niko Katic was sent off for kicking a ball away from his bench in frustration at an earlier call.

The Galaxy also had their moment of frustration in the final minutes, when captain Rafael Garcia committed a careless foul near midfield to receive his second yellow card and reduce his team to 10 men.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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