AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Galaxy coach Steve Sampson said he already can tell a major change in the 27-year-old’s demeanor. “When he’s happy with himself and he’s contributing,” Sampson said, “it’s only going to help his confidence.” It also will help the Galaxy, the 2001 Open Cup winners who will take on a team that beat them 1-0 in last year’s quarterfinals. Minnesota has eliminated three Major League Soccer teams in this year’s competition — Real Salt Lake, Colorado and defending Cup champion Kansas City — and is attempting to become the first non-MLS team since Rochester in 1999 to win the Cup. Ramirez said the importance of tonight’s game has not been lost on the players or coaches this week. “This team has really had an up-and-down season,” he said, “and we understand that. To put ourselves in position where we are right now, on a high note, and continue to play at a high level and compete for a spot in the final is a big motivator for us right now.” Kickoff is at 8. “Now I have much more confidence,” he said after practice this week. “I’ll play differently on the field. Thankfully, this goal did come and hopefully, many more are on their way.” “We’ve had excuses for part of the year, but we don’t have excuses now,” Landon Donovan remarked. “This is a game we need to win, period.” Sampson said the Galaxy has plenty of respect for the Thunder, which plays in the United Soccer League’s first division. “I’ll tell you how much we respect them,” he said. “We’re going to field our very best team, and we know we have to put forth a very good effort. That’s how serious we’re taking this. Minnesota, on any given day, can beat any MLS team. “We know that. We just don’t want it to happen on Wednesday.” — Larry Morgan can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2272, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CARSON — Galaxy midfielder Guillermo Ramirez goes by the nickname “Pando,” which roughly translates into “Bow-legged.” Former Los Angeles standout Mauricio Cienfuegos, however, said it’s more like “bad luck” in nearby El Salvador. That could help explain Ramirez’s fortunes this season until last Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids. Ramirez, the captain of the Guatemalan national team, had just one assist in 19 previous games before he converted a penalty kick to close out the scoring in a 4-1 victory over the Rapids. It’s understandable, then, that Ramirez feels good about himself heading into tonight’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against the Minnesota Thunder at Home Depot Center.