Even after he torched his team, Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena still had no idea who Ty Shipalane is.
“I’m not familiar with him,” he said.
The scouting report on Shipalane among second-division soccer foes is simple – he has a go-to stepover move and he wears his shorts backward. But Shipalane’s anonymity to the reigning Major League Soccer champions also was their undoing.
The 7,939 fans who erupted when Shipalane tied the score during the 75th minute and assisted to Brian Shriver in the 88th know who Shipalane is, and they know he’s the man who keyed the upset of the Galaxy in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, when the RailHawks defeated LA 2-1 on Tuesday night.
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While the Galaxy was without almost all of its regular starters, including David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, all left behind to rest instead of playing in their fourth game in 11 days, it didn’t make the victory any less sweet for those chanting “Beat LA!” as the final seconds ticked away.
The sold-out crowd set a WakeMed Soccer Park record for a RailHawks game and is the third-largest in the stadium’s 10-year history.
But there wasn’t as much to cheer for through the game’s opening 45 minutes. In the 38th, a pass from Carolina center back Austen King went straight to the Galaxy’s Chad Barrett, creating a two-on-one with defender Gale Agbossoumonde. Barrett found a wide-open Pat Noonan, and the 10-year MLS veteran scored the game’s first goal, beating goalkeeper Ray Burse.
That score held until halftime with the Galaxy outshooting Carolina 7-1.
“We had a couple of set plays in the first minute – the corner, a free kick – and the crowd got into it. We didn’t get the crowd excited again until the 46th minute,” said RailHawks coach Colin Clarke. “We got them into it in the second half pretty early.”
The RailHawks’ first shot on goal came in the 56th minute, and it ignited the team.
“We knew if we got the first goal, the second one would come,” said Clarke, who defeated the Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League while at Puerto Rico.
A few Carolina substitutions began to turn up the heat on the Galaxy. Shipalane entered during the 65th minute and immediately singled out defender Bryan Jordan – who was subbed in for an injured Hector Jimenez during the 43rd – as a player he could pick on.
“Coach told me … he was a little bit slow and nobody was giving him a challenge. So he wanted me to go at him, try to make something happen and go by him,” Shipalane said. “Fortunately, I was quicker than him and able to get the goal.”
After two runs into the box, Shipalane blew past Jordan again during the 75th, going down the right side of the box and pushing his goal past an onrushing Bill Gaudette to tie the score.
A few more close chances nearly had the RailHawks on top – none coming closer than a wasted one-on-one breakaway between Jason Garey and Gaudette during the 84th.
Orange-clad fans had their hands on top of their heads after Garey’s miss, but Clarke said he still was confident.
Shipalane attacked Jordan again down the right flank. He crossed a pass that met the head of Shriver, who scored his fifth goal during the past two rounds, and headed it in.
“We were on that roll. We were looking like the team who was going to score the next goal. We were on the front foot and getting at them with speed and pace,” Clarke said.
With four minutes of stoppage time, Shipalane and the Galaxy each nearly had a chance to put another goal on the board. Shipalane’s pressured breakaway missed by inches, and Noonan overshot a close-range one-on-one that likely would have sent the game into overtime.
RailHawks fans might have a chance to see another MLS team from Los Angeles – Chivas USA – next week.
Carolina is slated to host the winner between Chivas and the Ventura County Fusion, a fourth-division team from the Professional Development League. The RailHawks could sell its hosting rights to the game and travel to Los Angeles to play Chivas on June 5, but the club announced tickets would be available for purchase at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“It was a very special night,” Clarke said. “Nights like this are what it’s all about.”