LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez was profiled by USA Today as a representative of "New America" ahead of the U.S. match against Mexico on Wednesday.
CARSON, Calif. – Another year, another CONCACAF Champions League semifinal that will be dominated by Mexican clubs.
A day after the LA Galaxy fell 4-3 on aggregate to Club Tijuana, the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City were also eliminated with defeats to Mexican clubs Toluca and Cruz Azul. The results all but assure that the competition will have an all-Mexican final for the sixth time in the competition’s history unless Central American underdog Alajuelense can upset Toluca.
Following the loss to Tijuana, Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan stated that the wage disparity may have played a part in LA’s defeat and veteran Todd Dunivant was quick to agree after LA training on Thursday.
“Our owners are competitive and we want to be the best league in this region and I don’t think that’s too far off to be honest. We’ve made big strides and we’re closer and closer. I think even two or three years ago, you see all Mexican teams playing second teams in these games and now you don’t see that,” said Dunivant who played 45 minutes in the loss. “At the end of the day, we’re still a ways away, but the funny part is that we’re really close. … It’s not that far off, but the difference is pretty big in terms of the depth of the roster and the economics between the two league and, at the end of the day, that makes enough of a difference to consistently get the same results.”
While Dunivant believes that there are “no easy answers” to the league's failures in CCL, but was quick to admit that the wage disparity between MLS and Liga MX “might be brought up” as the players union heads into negotiations for the new CBA at the end of the year.
“Everyone out here is trying to put a 1000 percent into this and we’re not making excuses before about losing, but at the end of the day, when you keep seeing the same results, it’s difficult to argue with the conditions that we have,” said Dunivant. “We’re competitive and we’re going to do everything that we can, but the disparity is pretty obvious.”
In the latest edition of "Kickin' It With Kelli," Time Warner Cable SportsNet sideline reporter Kelli Tennant speaks to A.J. DeLaGarza about life in Los Angeles, the Galaxy and his dog Diesel at Silvio's in Hermosa Beach.
Check it out below.
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 – 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.”