adam serrano

15 March 11:52 am

CARSON, Calif. -- MLS teams have struggled mightly in Mexico witha  2-26-5 record all-time, but when the LA Galaxy takes the field on Tuesday evening at Estadio Caliente in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg match, they'll have a player on their team who has tasted CCL victory south of the border. 

LA Galaxy left back James Riley was in the Seattle Sounders FC starting XI on August 23, 2011 when Seattle gave MLS their second ever victory in Mexico with a 1-0 victory over C.F. Monterrey in CONCACAF CCL group stage. Riley's play was instrumental on the game-winning sequence as he helped force a turnover that resulted in a Sounders counter attack that ended when current Galaxy assistant coach Pat Noonan fed Alvaro Fernandez who fired a blistering shot past Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco. Seattle's feat came just a week after FC Dallas defeated a reserve-laden Pumas UNAM to become the first team to win in Mexico, but has not been repeated since.

"We put an experienced bunch out and came in with a gameplan that said that we wanted to catch them on the break or a set piece. We got guys behind the ball and, to be honest, there was some fortune on our side. Our goalkeeper [Terry Boss] played huge, some guys made some critical plays and we were able to hold on for the victory."

Although the stakes for Tuesday's quarterfinal are considerably higher than they were when Seattle knocked off Los Rayados, Riley believes that there are lessons to take from the Sounders' victory. 

"We think that Tijuana will come with the same high tempo and try to force the issue early on, which we can expect," said Riley. "We'll simply need to be ready." 

Highlights of Seattle's game-winning goal are below. Riley can be seen at the outset forcing a Monterrey attacker to pass the ball away from the end line, which leads to the decisive turnover . 

14 March 4:52 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Marcelo Sarvas knows that there’s a battle looming ahead for the LA Galaxy.

Sarvas’ fortitude in central midfield was vital during the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Club Tijuana on Wednesday. Throughout the match, Sarvas and midfield partner Juninho tussled frequently with Tijuana sparkplug Cristian Pellerano who provided the engine for the Xolos.

The Galaxy midfield controlled the issue in the first half but the Xolos dominated the second half even forcing Sarvas to make a key off-the-line stop in the 68th minute of a Javier Gandolfi header. The save was an important one for Sarvas, who Omar Gonzalez stated after the game, was criticized internally for conceding goals while he was supposed to be defending the near post.

“Marcelo got a lot of flak last year about letting goals in while he was supposed on the post. I’m sure since he saved that one; he’ll let Bruce know ‘hey, look what I did,’” joked Gonzalez.

Heading into the second leg at Estadio Caliente, Sarvas is among three Galaxy players (Gyasi Zardes and Omar Gonzalez being the others) holding a yellow card as the Galaxy prepare to head down to the raucous Tijuana stadium. Although the Brazilian midfielder will need to be smart about his challenges due to the caution, he's ready for the challenge. 

“We’ve never been there, but we know that it is artificial grass and their fans will be loud. We know that they will press for 90 minutes and it’ll be more like the second half [of the first leg],” said Sarvas. “We have to be able to create something on the counter attack and score a goal. If we score a goal, the scenario will change.”

14 March 1:12 pm

CARSON, Calif. --  We're at Matchday Minus-Five before the LA Galaxy take on Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg at the Estadio Caliente. 

After the Galaxy earned a 1-0 victory over Tijuana at StubHub Center on Wednesday thanks to some clinical finishing by Samuel and cat-like reactions from goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, setting up a do-or-die match south of the border.  Following the match, Club Tijuana were adamant that the series was merely at "halftime" as the two teams prepare to head down to the Estadio Caliente where they have won 18 of their last 19 league matches.

While Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena stated that the club was in a "good, but not great" position heading into the match in Tijuana, just how confident are you feeling heading into the second leg?

 

14 March 12:20 pm

It's week two of the MLS season and even though the LA Galaxy will not be playing, MLS Fantasy participants will be keeping a close eye on the action.

In my first week, "The LA Galaxy Insider" fantasy team finished with a total of 52 points in what was a disappointing week, but according to MLS Fantasy guru Ben Jata, just above average. Thanks to the Galaxy's scoreless performance against Real Salt Lake and zero points from starting midfielder Oriol Rosell, my team managed only 54 points and finished the week ranked No. 267 in the Los Angeles Galaxy group. The showing could have been even worse if it wasn't for 12 points from Chivas USA midfielder Mauro Rosales and 11 points from FC Dallas forward Blas Perez. 

Betting heavily on LA wasn't the only issue for my team in week one as I also selected two players from the New England Revolution, who were demolished 4-0 by the Houston Dynamo in week one. 

My performance from the first week is below. 

Well, out with the old and in with the new.

With the Galaxy on a bye this week, my two transfers were to remove Robbie Keane and Juninho from the starting lineup, while I replaced A.J. DeLaGarza with Houston Dynamo full back Kofi Sarkodie.  To replace Keane, I opted for Dynamo forward Will Bruin, who tallied 15 points in week one with two goals and one assist. Bruin and Sarkodie appear to be safe selections as the Dynamo prepare to take on a Montreal side that is coming off a 3-2 defeat to FC Dallas. In that defeat, the Impact struggled to contain Perez, making Bruin a safe play heading into the second week of the season. 

Meanwhile, Juninho was switched out for new Vancouver Whitecaps FC Designated Player Pedro Morales who takes on Chivas USA at StubHub Center on Sunday after scoring a goal and an assist in a substitute performance during Vancouver's 4-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Although the Rojiblancos were victorious on a late goal last week, they were frequently tested by the Chicago Fire attack and should be pressured early and often by a Vancouver offense that smashed the defending Supporters' Shield winning  Red Bulls last week. If needing some punch in your attack, signing Morales appears to be a safe option as he is likely to be in the starting lineup against Chivas

My team for the second week of MLS Fantasy is below. 

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What changes are you making to your lineup? What position are you in at the moment?

Share your thoughts below. 

14 March 9:19 am

Last week, Topps unveiled a series of officially licensed MLS jersey posters that feature some of the league's biggest stars including LA Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan. 

You can purchase your own Donovan poster from the Topps website, but you can see the complete image below. 

13 March 2:09 pm

EA Sports' FIFA franchise has become a major part of soccer culture across the globe and in this video by Kick TV, LA Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez take on New York Red Bulls stalwarts Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry in a game of FIFA 14. 

The video was filmed during the league's Media and Marketing tour in New York City earlier this year. 

Check it out below.

13 March 12:55 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Club Tijuana may have dropped their first leg to the LA Galaxy 1-0 on Wednesday, but to the Mexican side, they're simply down a goal at half time. 

The Mexican side found themselves down a goal after just 11 minutes on Samuel's strike from close range, but  their attack came alive in the second half as they repeatedly tested the Galaxy defense and forced LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo to make several remarkable stops to keep the home side ahead at full time

“It’s a game that has 180 minutes, it was not a great result for us but it is also not a bad one considering we played away. It was a hard game," said Tijuana head coach Cesar Farias who labeled the Xolos fan presence at StubHub Center 'spectacular.' "We had two goals on the line, and we pushed trying to grab the tie. We were very stable on the defensive line and we were good with air balls. We had a distraction that cost us the win, but it’s a win that we can come back from in Tijuana and we are going to work with the same professionalism  and with a lot of hope that we will be able to win in Tijuana."

Much of Tijuana's early struggles in the attacking ended from the uneven play of the starting forward tandem of Fidel Martinez and Jaime Ayovi, who rarely tested the Galaxy defense. However, once Farias through on forward Dario Benedetto who was unable to start due to an Achilles injury, Tijuana began to dominate the run of play. The Tijuana attack was only bolstered when former Galaxy attacker Herculez Gomez entered the match for Ayovi in the 80th minute and nearly tallied twice in the final 10 minutes before the final whistle blew. 

As the two teams prepare to head down to the Estadio Caliente, where Tijuana has lost just one league match in more than a year, Gomez believes that the Xolos ability to pressure the LA defense will prove decisive.

“They are an intelligent team, they are organized. The first half they showed how organized they could be. I think what helped us was how urgent we were in the offensive side. I think we created a lot of problems in the second half, but it should be like that during the whole 90 minutes, and not only 45.”

13 March 10:50 am

CARSON, Calif. - New Brazilian forward Samuel was brought to the LA Galaxy to finish the chances that the team often squandered in 2013 and on Wednesday against Club Tijuana, he did just that. 

Samuel tallied the game-winner in the 11th minute off a sequence that began when Marcelo Sarvas launched a cross that bounced off Robbie Keane to the path of the Brazilian for the easy finish that sealed LA's 1-0 victory in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg. The goal wasn't the only high point for the Brazilian who provided a physical presence up top during his 70 minute shift. 

"We played against a very difficult team so it was very important for me to score," said Samuel after the match. "I saw it come off Keane's knee and I was right there ready to score. ... Of course, I was expecting that ball to bounce to me. With a player like Robbie Keane, you have to expect everything so I was ready for the play." 

Added Landon Donovan, "It was a good poacher's goal. He does that in training, he is always around the goal. It was good for him, an important goal, and he did very well tonight."

But one question remains: did Keane intend for that deflection to bounce in the path of the waiting Brazilian? 

"Of course, you know me," asserted a chuckling Keane postgame. 

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12 March 10:37 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- It was a moment that nearly lived in infamy for the LA Galaxy. 

In the 61st minute with the Galaxy up 1-0 on Club Tijuana, goalkeeper Jaime Penedo made a palm stop of a Tijuana clearance that deflected off defender Omar Gonzalez and began to roll toward the goal line. But before the ball could roll over the goal line, Penedo tracked back enough to slap the ball away  and preserve what was ultimately a 1-0 victory for LA. 

"I was frozen. I caught the ball out of the corner of my eye because I didn't expect Jaime to drop it. I was already turning so I just stuck my leg out and I didn't know what was going on," Gonzalez recalled. "Jaime did an amazing job to dive and put it all out there." 

Gonzalez wasn't the only player stunned by the play as Penedo admitted after the match that the entire sequence took place in "slow motion." 

" I remember seeing Omar's face, it was pretty comical. I have to admit that when I stop the ball, I can't calculate how it'll bounce. It was just a quick reaction," said Penedo. "The ball was just touching the line." 

The goal line clearance wasn't the only highlight for Penedo who enjoyed a strong second half that included two saves to keep the result heading into the all-important second leg.

"Jaime was great tonight," said Gonzalez. "He let them know that you're not getting in my net. I think that we're going to need an even better game from him next week, if that's even possible." 

12 March 9:52 pm

Below is a stat infographic of the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over Club Tijuana.