CARSON, Calif. – Tacoma Defiance’s Abdoulaye Cissoko scored from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time to earn his side a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy II on Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park, giving the visitors a point from their opening game of the 2021 USL Championship season after Jorge Hernandez had produced another outstanding free kick to give Los Dos a late lead.
The Defiance had almost grabbed an early lead after turning over possession in midfield in the second minute as Marlon Vargas set up Azriel Gonzalez for a first-time shot in the left side of the penalty area that saw Los Dos’ Justin Vom Steeg punch the ball up before claiming at the second attempt. As the game developed, though, the hosts began to take more control. Augustine Williams had an ambitious attempt to curl a shot past Tacoma goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland in the 18th minute after Cleveland had come out of his penalty area to clear a long ball upfield, but the goalkeeper recovered in time to save.
The best chance of the first half arrived a minute before the break as LA’s Jorge Hernandez lifted a pass over the Defiance back line for Kai Koreniuk, but his first-time finish from 15 yards was saved comfortably by Cleveland. Los Dos also threatened inside the opening two minutes of the second half as a corner from the right reached Jesus Vazquez at the back post, but Cleveland got across to make the save once again.
Tacoma also went close from a free kick soon after as Ray Serrano’s deliver from just outside the right edge of the penalty area was headed off the top of the crossbar by Cissoko and behind for a goal kick, but Los Dos continued to carry the majority of the play and almost grabbed the lead in the 61st minute on a diving header by Koreniuk that was kept out by Cleveland.
Coming on as a second-half substitute, Alec Diaz almost made an immediate impact for Tacoma as he rifled a shot just wide of the left post midway through the second half, but with 12 minutes to go Los Dos took the lead. After Hernandez was brought down 20 yards from goal centrally, the attacking midfielder produced his second outstanding free kick finish of the week, curling a shot into the top-left corner to give the hosts the lead.
That appeared to have given the Galaxy II victory, but deep in stoppage time Tacoma was given the chance to equalize as off a late corner kick the ball caromed off the arm of LA’s Preston Judd, giving Tacoma a penalty kick. Cissoko stepped up and fired into the top-right corner of the net with what proved the final kick of the game to earn Tacoma a point.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Jorge Hernandez, LA Galaxy II – Hernandez scored the go-ahead goal for the Galaxy II and put in a stellar display otherwise, completing 44 of 49 passes and recording five key passes while also winning 10 duels,
LA – Jorge Hernandez 78’
TAC – Abdoulaye Cissoko (Penalty Kick) 90+6’