There weren't many silver linings in the LA Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Club Tijuana, but the play of target striker Rob Friend may bode well for the future.
In my latest piece for LAGalaxy.com, Friend talks about his strong showing against Club Tijuana. Following the match, I asked Friend about the mood in the Galaxy locker room following their 3-0 first half drubbing against Club Tijuana that ultimately ended in a 4-2 defeat and an exit in the CCL.
"We had to dig deep, we had to show some character. You are never down and especially when you are away like this, all we had to do was get two goals and we were back in the game and we would have advanced," said Friend. "I think that last goal kind of killed us but we still showed and I think that if we would have played ten more minutes in that game we could have got a result. I think Tijuana was happy that the game ended when it did because we were pressuring them and I don’t think they could have handled us at the end there."
TIJUANA, MEXICO – The LA Galaxy players differed about the timing, but all admitted that LA surrendered their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Club Tijuana within the opening 30 minutes.
LA conceded three times in the opening half hour as Tijuana pressed mercilessly, but nearly leveled the tie thanks to a Robbie Keane second half brace, that ultimately was not enough. Following the match, the Galaxy admitted their slow start in Tijuana cost them the series.
“The game was over in the first 10 minutes. It’s as simple as that. We started off slow and when you concede a goal in the space of 57 seconds; you can’t start away from home like that especially in a game like this and go on and expect that everything is going to be okay,” said Robbie Keane. “Once you concede one goal then you have to get organized and concede again, then five minutes later, you concede again. It put our backs against the wall and when we had to fight to get back in the game.”
Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan agreed.
“When you start a game like that then you don’t deserve it. We lost the game in the first 25 minutes, we know that,” said Donovan. “It’s disappointing because we know what we’re capable of, we showed what we’re capable of, but unfortunately for us, we were a little naïve and it showed.”
TIJUANA, Mexico – The gap between MLS teams and Mexico ones in CONCACAF Champions League remains.
The LA Galaxy crashed out of the CCL on Tuesday with a 4-2 defeat to Club Tijuana that saw them fall to the Liga MX side 4-3 on aggregate. LA’s loss gives MLS clubs a 2-27-5 record all time against Mexican clubs in Champions League and a 0-8-2 record in knockout round matches.
Following LA’s defeat, which featured three Tijuana goals in the opening 30 minutes of the game,Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan admitted that the gap between the two leagues was apparent on Tuesday.
“I think that you see the difference in the leagues in nights like tonight. We’ve got about eight who are mature and know how these games are while they’ve got 20 guys who know how these games go,” said Donovan. “That’s the difference in the payrolls and that’s where it is going to be difficult to make that next step until we get on equal terms where we can have the type of players that know how to play in these games.”
TIJUANA, Mexico – Bruce Arena spoke to the media following the LA Galaxy’s 4-2 defeat to Club Tijuana on Tuesday at Estadio Caliente. With the loss, the Galaxy exited the CONCACAF Champions League 4-3 on aggregate.
Arena’s comments are below.
(On the Galaxy’s 4-2 loss…)
ARENA: “It wasn’t our intention to make this game entertaining but it certainly became an entertaining game. Our first half play was awful right from the start. We understood the conditions, the field was going to make the game hectic, make the ball bounce around and spin and all that. Right from the start we conceded a goal in the first minute, very disappointing, and it took our team 30 minutes to get into the game and we positioned ourselves in the second half to advance. We got another goal and conceded the fourth. The game was 90 minutes but certainly the first 45 minutes put us in a hole.”
(On both teams’ overall performance…)
ARENA: “I think they were good. The way we played, they couldn’t beat that. We didn’t win a tackle, our backline was very poor. Let’s be fair, we weren’t good. How good they were I don’t know. They were certainly better than we were.”
(On whether the result can be called a choke…)
ARENA: “A choke? I don’t know. It didn’t look like the guys were choking in the second half. It was a good game, it ended up being a good game and we were certainly positioned to get that second goal and advance. A choke is not a good description of the performance and the character of our team. I’d choose another word.”
(On Rob Friend’s performance in the second half after coming on for Samuel…)
ARENA: “We had to be more direct, no question about it. He gave us that and he was the presence and engaged Landon [Donovan] and Robbie [Keane] a little bit more with his presence there. And I thought Samuel had a very good first half.”
TIJUANA, Mexico. -- The LA Galaxy are out of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Club Tijuana scored three goals in the opening thirty minutes and another in the second half to defeat LA 4-3 on aggregate. Robbie Keane scored twice for the Galaxy in the defeat.
More to come.
TIJUANA – The stage is set.
The LA Galaxy will take on Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente on Tuesday night (7:00 pm on FoxSports 2/Galavision) with a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on the line. LA hold a 1-0 aggregate goal advantage after defeating Tijuana at StubHub Center last week.
Of note: The LA Galaxy advance with a win or scoreless draw. If the Galaxy end up scoring first, Tijuana would need to score three goals to win the series outright. Should Tijuana win the game by one goal, the Galaxy would advance on the away goals rule.
*Winning on the road was a hallmark of the LA Galaxy’s past MLS Cup winning sides and as they look to return to that form, the Galaxy believe that a result in Tijuana will help them accomplish that goal.
*Looking to prevent them from doing so will be a raucous crowd that is expected to be boisterous once the match kicks off.
*In the latest edition of “What to Watch” Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones break down the game.
*In LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan’s preview piece, the Galaxy state that they’re ready for “war” against Tijuana.
*The magnitude of the match didn’t stop LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane from having a little fun in training with a crazy trick shot at the Estadio Caliente on Monday.
*Lastly, my LAGalaxy.com preview from Tijuana on Keane and the Galaxy weathering the Tijuana storm.
*MLS teams are 2-26-5 record all-time in Mexico during the CONCACAF Champions League with a 0-7-2 record in knockout round games.
*LA Galaxy are 2-3-0 all-time against Mexican competition in the CONCACAF Champions League.
*Tijuana is unbeaten in 17 of their last 18 matches at home. Their last home defeat came against Chiapas Jaguar in February who administered a 3-0 beat down to Xolos.
*Club Tijuana is unbeaten in continental competition over the last year with a 5-0-0 record.
DARIO BENEDETTO VS. OMAR GONZALEZ
The Argentine striker was a handful in his cameo appearance in the first leg and will likely be looking to test Gonzalez early and often as Tijuana look to erase their deficit.
JUNINHO AND MARCELO SARVAS VS. CRISTIAN PELLERANO AND FERNANDO ARCE
Pellerano is an offensive force, but where Juninho can stop his run—and the Xolos attack—is by scooping up second balls and limiting the turnovers that plagued LA in the second half.
JAIME PENEDO VS. CLUB TIJUANA OFFENSE
Jaime Penedo stood on his head to keep the Galaxy ahead in their first leg victory against the Xolos and they’ll need another performance like last week’s to advance to the CCL semifinals.
Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Riley; Zardes, Juninho, Sarvas, Donovan; Keane, Samuel
LA 1 TJ 2
TIJUANA – Club Tijuana may be down a goal in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against the LA Galaxy, but there’s little reason to worry from the Xolos camp ahead of Tuesday’s decisive second leg.
Tijuana have been near invincible at home in recent years with the team dropping just one match in their last 18 league games—a 3-0 defeat to Chiapas Jaguar in February—and will be looking to use the crowd to their advantage against the Galaxy.
If Tijuana can use their home advantage to their favor, former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez promises that his old club will be in for a “very tough day” at the Estadio Caliente.
“We can be very unpredictable, and that's a very dangerous fighter to face,” Former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez told reporters on Monday prior to the first leg. “The good thing about a fight, it just takes one punch. And we're one of those teams, we have some punch.”
Outside back Greg Garza, who was one of the most dangerous players in the first leg, believes that the Tijuana have found spaces to exploit in the Galaxy back line.
“They’re a very dangerous team offensively; they have a lot of good players in the attack," Garza told MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio podcast on Monday. "Maybe their weakness can be in their back line and we have to take advantage of that.”
Just because you're in town for an important game, doesn't mean that you can't have a little fun.
During the LA Galaxy's training session at Estadio Caliente on Monday, LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane fired an amazing trick shot firing a pinpoint laser into a nearby shopping cart pushed by LA Equipment coordinator Rafael Verdin.
Check it out below.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy know that a shutout of Club Tijuana will send them through to the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals for a second straight year. But don’t expect them to hang back for 90 plus minutes.
With the Galaxy holding a 1-0 aggregate advantage after their one goal victory over Tijuana in the first leg, the Xolos must attack from the outset as they look to erase their deficit. While Tijuana’s attacking mindset might lead to the temptation to bunker in, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena believes LA must get a goal if they’re to assure themselves a spot in the semifinals.
“We have an advantage [by not conceding an away goal], but it’s only halfway through in the competition and a goal tomorrow will go a long way in helping us advance,” said Arena at a press conference on Monday at the Estadio Caliente. “We don’t anticipate being defensive for 90 minutes, we need to get a goal.”
Where the Galaxy may have have the most success is with the counter attack as Tijuana will look to send waves of attackers forward, which may open chances for LA to exploit the spaces left in the back. But according to Galaxy captain Robbie Keane, that won’t be all that LA will be relying on against the Xolos.
“We’re certainly very used to doing that and confident in our counter attack, but we’re not coming here to sit back and let them keep the ball for 90 minutes, attacking us for the whole game,” said Keane who has scored once in two CONCACAF Champions League matches in Mexico. “We have quality on this team that is quite capable of playing against any team. With them pressing so much that they have to score, the first 15-20 minutes will be important to not concede any goals and from there, we’re quite capable of scoring ourselves.”