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."
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy know that when they take on Club Tijuana in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg, they’ll be facing not only the players on the field, but a raucous crowd at Estadio Caliente.
One of the most fierce atmospheres in Liga MX, the Galaxy understand that they’ll be facing a boisterous fan base on Tuesday when they look to hold up their 1-0 aggregate lead over Tijuana.
“I expect it to be pretty wild and pretty crazy,” said Landon Donovan. “It’ll be fun for us because we enjoy playing in games like that. With this team over the years, we usually play in front of the opposing team’s best crowd. We’re used to hostile environments and we thrive on it.”
Marcelo Sarvas, who also has considerable experience playing in hostile environments throughout his career, expects a fevered atmosphere on Tuesday.
“I’m from Brazil and I think it’ll be the same. People will scream at you, they’ll be throwing things like coins or water or whatever,” said Sarvas. “They’re going to push the team for 90 minutes and it’ll be tough. It’s a good game to play because you have to put your heart before everything and face the game the right way.”
CARSON, Calif. – With just two days remaining before the LA Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg match against Club Tijuana, LA head coach Bruce Arena spoke to the media.
As a little update, myself and the rest of the LAGalaxy.com team will be traveling down to Tijuana tomorrow and we’ll have plenty of coverage ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Arena’s comments are below.
(On what he expects to be the keys to the game…)
ARENA: “Certainly not conceding a goal in the game. We don’t concede a goal and we go through in the competition. Defending in the early minutes is going to be important because we know that Club Tijuana will come hard at the start.”
(On Club Tijuana resting their starters for the league match against Club Tijuana...)
ARENA: “We anticipated that. They’ll have their full team and we’ll have our full team. It’ll be a good game.”
(On what the Galaxy’s mood is heading into the second leg down in Tijuana…)
ARENA: “We’re really optimistic that we can get through this game and then prepare for the semifinals.”
(On the struggles of MLS teams down in Mexico…)
ARENA: “One thing that is a bit of a relief is that we’re not playing at altitude. However, the artificial field will certainly be an advantage for Tijuana, but we’ve played on [turf] enough. We’ll be ready.”
Club Tijuana is going all in with their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg against the LA Galaxy.
Tijuana head coach Cesar Farias opted to use a reserve-laden squad in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Cruz Azul in Mexico City. Cruz Azul striker Marco Fabian tallied twice as La Maquina roared back from an early deficit to extend Tijuana’s league road winless streak to 20 games.
The Xoloitzcuintles went ahead in the 45th minute when San Diego native Alejandro Guido fed Paul Arriola with a through ball that split two Cruz Azul defenders before the former Galaxy Academy attacker fired a pass across the goal mouth to Richard Ruiz, who scored from close range.Tijuana’s lead would not last, however, as Fabian fired a blast from beyond 25 yards just two minutes into the second half to equalize.
Fabian struck again in the 70th minute with yet another classy finish, this time from close range to give Cruz Azul the victory. Heading into Champions League quarterfinal second leg against the Galaxy, Tijuana sits in 10th place in the Liga MX 2014 Clausura Tournament with 14 points and a 4-5-2 record.
On Sunday, Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan stated that Farias' willingness to save his first team players for the Champions League second leg showed just how important the competition has become in recent years.
"It's a sign of the times," said Donovan following Galaxy training on Sunday. "I think that five years ago, they would have played their full team against Cruz Azul and we would have gotten their reserve team, but now, these teams realize that they can't do that anymore. We're going to see their absolute best effort on Tuesday and we're going to need to be ready."
Highlights of Tijuana's loss to Cruz Azul are below.