Beat

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. 

12 March 9:36 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena's thoughts following the team's 1-0 victory over Club Tijuana. 

(On the 1-0 victory...)

ARENA: "It was a good win for our team against a good opponent, it was a difficult game but I am please we came out with a win. Obviously going to Tijuana next week is going to be a difficult match, but I am pleased with the position we are in. Tonight was a pretty even game, we had a couple chances at the end of the first half, and didn't get it, and then Tijuana pushed us real hard in the second half and it was a great result for our team to get a clean sheet tonight. We played well defensively."

(On the play of Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo who made two saves on the night...)

ARENA: "Jaime had a good night, a couple good saves, maybe a couple weren't because they put the flag up, but Jaime did well, he is getting back into form. Jaime is coming into the prime of his career, we think he is going to get better, I like to believe goalkeeper is a position that is strong for us now."

(On what to expect playing in Tijuana next week in the second leg...)

ARENA: "It will be difficult. Obviously, another goal would have benefited our team, but it's still nice going there with an advantage. Not giving up an away goal is important and we are well aware of the fact that Tuesday will be a difficult game. We will be ready.

(On the play of Galaxy forward Samuel who scored the lone goal of the night...)

ARENA: "He has done well, he really has. I could have kept him in longer tonight, but I felt that we needed to get some fresh legs in the midfield, and push Landon up top, but Samuel has done very well. He has adjusted well, and is very opportunistic around the goal, we've seen it in the preseason, and tonight a similar type of goal. He's got a good nose for the goal and he is just going to get better as he begins to understand our team and our league a little bit better."

12 March 9:15 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Below is a photo gallery of the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League first leg.

 
12 March 8:29 pm

Samuel's goal against Club Tijuana in GIF form below: 

12 March 8:03 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Samuel scored as the LA Galaxy picked up a 1-0 victory over Club Tijuana on Wednesday night. 

The Brazilian forward put the Galaxy ahead in the 11th minute with a finish off a knock down by Robbie Keane. Tijuana's offense was under wraps for much of the game, but LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo made two saves in the win. 

The two teams will face off again next Tuesday at Estadio Caliente. 

More to come soon...

12 March 4:13 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy take on Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday at StubHub Center. 

Check out my look ahead to the match below.

LINKS:

*In the Galaxy's last pair of two-leg series, LA have struggled, but they're hoping to learn from the lessons of Monterrey and Real Salt Lake when they play Tijuana

*The Galaxy expect Tijuana to come out aggressive early on and believe that their counter is key to victory

*Robbie Keane admits that Tijuana's inability showcases a "weakness" that the Galaxy will be looking to exploit on Wednesday. 

*LAGalaxy.com's Larry Morgan provides his preview of the match

*Lastly, check out my video round-up of all of the LAvTJ video content produced by LAGalaxy.com. 

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Juninho vs. Cristian Pellerano

A battle of attacking defensive midfielders, the two players will be looking to set the tempo for their respective teams early on. 

Gyasi Zardes vs. Edgar Castillo 

Speed vs. Speed. The hyperactive left back will look to push forward into the attack for Tijuana, but look for Zardes to attempt to take advantage of the space left by his agression to help the Galaxy.

Herculez Gomez vs. Omar Gonzalez

Whether Gomez will starts remains to be seen, but if he does, the Galaxy center back will have his hands full with the dangerous attacker. Expect the battle on the field to be as heated as their war of words

PREDICTED LINEUP: Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Riley; Zardes, Juninho, Sarvas, Donovan; Keane, Samuel 

12 March 3:42 pm

Banter between MLS teams usually produces hilarious results, but this offering from an exchange between the LA Galaxy Twitter account and Sporting Kansas City's twitter may take the cake.

Check it out. 

 

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