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.”
In the latest edition of What to Watch For, Cobi Jones and Joe Tutino breakdown the CONCACAF Champions League second leg between the LA Galaxy and Club Tijuana.
Check it out below.
TIJUANA – Much has been made about the LA Galaxy’s ability to play on the turf field at Club Tijuana’s Estadio Caliente, but following the team’s training session at the stadium on Monday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena gave it a ringing endorsement.
In an evening press conference at the Estadio Caliente, following the team’s hour long training session in Tijuana, Arena admitted that he was pleased with the conditions that LA will face in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg.
“The fibers are a little bit higher than we see in the American fields. The American fields are usually matted down and a little bit harder,” said Arena. “They’re also faster and they water them as well, but I don’t know if they’ll do that tomorrow. This surface is must slower than the ones that we see in MLS.
“From what I’ve seen of it, it is probably better than the ones that we have in MLS.”
In the latest edition of LAGalaxy.com's "By the Numbers," we look at the LA Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals second leg against Club Tijuana.
Check it out below.
A conversation with Tom Marshall on the CCL quarterfinal second leg between LA Galaxy and Club Tijuana
TIJUANA, B.C. — To get you set for the LA Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Club Tijuana, I spoke briefly with MLSsoccer.com and Goal.com’s Mexican correspondent Tom Marshall about Tuesday’s match.
My conversation with Marshall is below.
LA GALAXY INSIDER: “Tijuana head coach Cesar Farias opted to rest his starters against Cruz Azul, a lot has been made about FMF teams not respecting the competition, what does this say about TJ's focus on the competition?”
MARSHALL: “Everything. Toluca rested key players for its first leg against San Jose and then fielded them in the Liga MX on Friday against Queretaro, despite being pretty much qualified for the playoffs already. Xolos are doing the opposite. Unlike the vast majority of Mexican first division clubs, Xolos are engaged in expanding the club’s name and image outside of Mexico and believe the CCL is a great opportunity to do that. The reaction Tijuana got from its Copa Libertadores run last year was immense and only re-emphasized the club’s desire to be a club “without borders,” as the Xolos marketing slogan goes. It is an area in which, for me, Xolos are light-years ahead of other Liga MX clubs.”
LAGI: “Dario Benedetto played briefly in the first leg, but is likely to start on Tuesday, in what ways can he test the Galaxy defense?"
MARSHALL: “Predicting Cesar Farias’ teams is already notoriously difficult, but having said that, Benedetto is Tijuana’s most in-form striker and looked good when he came on last week. Benedetto is quick, athletic and doesn’t give defenders any rest. He likes to drift out to the flanks or into midfield to receive the ball and create space for others, which is something Galaxy’s center backs will have to be wary of. The Argentine clearly has a lot of potential, but hasn’t really done himself justice so far in Mexico, mainly because of injury problems.”
LAGI: “MLS teams have struggled mightily in Mexico. Do you think the proximity between the two clubs may downplay this struggle or do you feel that the environment at Caliente will prove too much for LA?”
MARSHALL: “As much as everyone seems to be minimalizing the notion of a rivalry, I was in Tijuana a couple of weeks ago and the people there are very excited about this game. The atmosphere will be immense. Xolos are still such a young club and it shows in the raw enthusiasm for the team around the city. But in terms of the atmosphere being too much for LA, no way. The Galaxy has played its fair share of big playoff and MLS Cup matches recently and figures like Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane aren’t going to be overawed. Donovan especially is likely to receive a hostile reception, but that tends to only to make him perform better. The usual travel and altitude factors won’t come into play, which is a massive bonus for Galaxy. For me, the real edge that Xolos have for this match is being familiar with their turf pitch.”
LAGI: “The last 45 minutes of the first leg were played at a breakneck and frantic pace that Tijuana plays so well, do you expect the second leg to be similar and how can that help or hurt Tijuana's chances?”
MARSHALL: “I expect Tijuana to come out flying and cause the game to be very much like the second half of the first leg. Xolos will likely have more possession, but the key for Galaxy will be to establish early on that it is a threat on the counter-attack and to make sure it takes a chance and gets that vital away goal. The Tijuana defense hasn’t looked the same since the Pablo Aguilar-Javier Gandolfi partnership was broken up over the winter, when Aguilar was sold to Club America. But, I honestly don’t think there is much between the teams. It’s going to be who performs on the night.”
LAGI: “Herculez Gomez has had so much success against MLS teams but he's struggled to see the field and will likely not start on Tuesday. What's been the reason for his struggles with TJ? Do you think he'll contribute in the second leg?”
MARSHALL: Never write anything off with Farias. Who knows if Gomez not starting last week was to fire him up for the return leg? Having said that, I agree it does seem an outside prospect at present. Gomez’s knee injury obviously was a major setback last year and the bottom line is he needs a couple of goals to really get his career going at Xolos. I expect him to come off the bench and wouldn’t be at all surprised if he scores on Tuesday night, considering his record in the CCL.”
LAGI: “What's your prediction for the match?”
MARSHALL: “Tijuana 2-1 LA Galaxy. I can see Xolos having the better of the match, but I don’t think they’ll keep a clean sheet against the quality Galaxy possess going forward.”
Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas hoping to wrestle control of the game away from Cristian Pellerano and the Tijuana midfield
CARSON, Calif. – In what promises to be a match played a breakneck pace, controlling the midfield will be vital once the LA Galaxy take the field against Club Tijuana at the Estadio Caliente on Tuesday.
The task of slowing the game down will not be an easy one for Galaxy midfielders Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas as they’ll look to stifle Tijuana’s dynamic midfield pairing of Fernando Arce and Christian Pellerano.
In the second half of LA’s 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg victory last week, Pellerano was particularly effective, pulling the strings as Tijuana tried searched for equalizer. With Tijuana needing a goal to get back into the series, limiting the box-to-box midfielder’s chances at goal will be key for LA.
“[Pellerano is] a very good player. He was a very calm player, he looks to control the game and dish the ball across the field. Marcelo and I have talked about him a lot this week,” said Juninho. “We’ve also got to be mindful of [Arce] as well, so we’ve got to be prepared and pay attention at all times.”
Although the two midfielders pose a major threat for LA, Sarvas believes that if LA can slow down the frantic pace, the team can force Tijuana into uncomfortable positions.
“We have to be in good spots and not give up space. But the most important thing is that every time we go forward, we have to [get shots off] which allows the team time to go back and defend again,” said Sarvas. “We've simply have to delay the game as much as we can whether it’s with fouls, corner kicks, free kicks, or throw-ins because as time wears on, they’re going to get nervous and make mistakes."