CARSON, Calif. – Mexican teams have long ruled CONCACAF Champions League, but does that make Club Tijuana favorites against the LA Galaxy in this CCL Quarterfinals? Well, it’s not that simple says Club Tijuana forward Herculez Gomez.
In an interview with LAGalaxy.com, Gomez, a former member of the Galaxy, was asked whether Mexican team's 45-19-14 all-time record against MLS teams made Xolos favorites, the U.S. international disagreed, instead stating that LA have the advantage over their Mexican opponents.
“Look if we’re being honest, their salary cap, I don’t even call it a Salary cap. Their player personnel on paper probably outspend ours. We know that it’s going to be a test, but we’re excited,” Gomez told LAGalaxy.com. “We don’t have that huge marquee international player coming in. But we’ve got guys who have worked and stuck to their guns, and made a career out of what they do. In a brief time, they’ve done a lot.”
The response from his Galaxy opponents was pointed as they dismissed the claims of the U.S. international.
“It doesn’t really matter, but I would say as a general statement that the team with the higher payroll is probably the team that’s favored. All these Mexican teams pay their players a lot more money than we do as a whole,” said Donovan. “That’s something that we have to deal with, it’s a disadvantage for us in a lot of ways, but we still compete well and still expect to give them a good series.”
“I usually don’t listen to anything that Herculez Gomez says. He is just full of hot air,” said a smiling Omar Gonzalez. “They can feel whatever they want. I think that they’re a really good team. We won’t underestimate them. They have a lot of quality and a lot of players that don’t want to lose to us. It’s going to be an even match and our second game of the year, so I’m sure that it’ll be a great game. There’s a lot of respect there and I look forward to it.”
Check out the video below.
Club Tijuana came within 10 minutes of their first road victory in over a year, but a late goal by Liber Quiñones sealed a 1-1 draw for the Xolos against Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz, and extended Tijuana's road winless streak to 19 games.
Midfielder Christian Pellerano gave Tijuana the lead six minutes into the match as a failed Veracruz clearance of a Xolos' corner fell perfectly for the Argentine who slotted it past the goalkeeper for the finish. Tijuana went down a man in the 78th minute as Pellerano was sent off for his second yellow leaving the Xolos to play with 10 for the remainder of the game. Up a man, Veracruz made Xolos pay three minutes later when the Tiburones Rojos (Red Sharks) took advantage of some shambolic Tijuana defending as Angel Reyna floated a pass over the visitors back-line to a waiting Quiñones who easily fired a shot past Cirilo Saucedo for the equalizer.
Former Galaxy striker Herculez Gomez and Texas-native Greg Garza started and fellow American Joe Corona came on midway through the first half due to a shoulder injury to Fernando Arce. Paul Arriola and recent U.S. National team call-up Edgar Castillo were not on the game day roster.
Highlights of the draw are below.
In the four installment of Road to Morocco, the LA Galaxy and Club Tijuana discuss the importance of winning the CONCACAF Champions League.
Check out the latest video below.
Watch the previous editions here:
Episode 1: Visiting Club Tijuana
Episode 2: Battle for San Diego
Episode 3: L.A. vs. Tijuana: Taco challenge
Club Tijuana’s run of dominance at the Estadio Caliente came to screeching halt on Friday when the Xolos dropped a disappointing 3-0 result to Chiapas Jaguar, ending their home unbeaten streak at 17 games.
Carlos Ochoa led the charge for Chiapas with two first half goals before Luis Robles added a third to put the match out of reach for the Xolos. The defeat was Tijuana’s first at home since April 20, 2013 when they dropped a 2-1 result to Monarcas Morelia in the week 15 of the 2013 Clausura Tournament.
From the opening whistle, Tijuana struggled to deal with the physical Chiapas side who carved up the Xolos defense in the first half. Up three goals after the first 45 minutes, Tijuana was afforded more room to operate in the attack, but could not break through a compact and organized Chiapas defense.
The Xolos finest chance came in the 86th minute when second half substitute Herculez Gomez launched a free kick that rattled the crossbar as Tijuana’s rally fell way short.
Tijuana returns to action next Saturday when they attempt to snap their 18 game road winless streak against former Chivas USA head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola’s Tiburones Rojos side in Veracruz.
Jose Villarreal is on the move again, this time to Liga de Ascenso club Cruz Azul Hidalgo.
Villarreal had made just two appearances for the team’s Under-20 side in recent weeks after suffering a leg injury that prevented him from suiting up for La Maquina (The Machine) immediately after his year-long loan deal was announced. The length of the 20-year-old forward’s loan means that if he is able to impress his coaches in the second division then it is conceivable that he’d rejoin the first team upon the start of the 2014 Apertura Tournament this summer.
Currently, Cruz Azul Hidalgo has 11 points after seven matches this season and are tied for third place in the Liga de Ascenso with Lobos BUAP. The Hidalgo-based club is also still alive in the Copa MX and takes on C.F. Monterrey on Wednesday.
Club Tijuana’s road woes in the Liga MX continued on Friday as Xolos fell 3-2 to Santos Laguna in Torreon to extend their road winless streak to 18 games.
Santos tallied twice in the first half with a penalty kick finish from Juan Rodriguez in the 14th minute and a Mauro Cejas tally seven minutes later. The Xoloitzcuintles cut the deficit in half in the 24th minute as Cristian Pellerano buried a close-range attempt past Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
Santos doubled their lead again in the 49th minute after a goal from Darwin Quintero to put the match out of reach for Tijuana. Xolos attacker Fidel Martinez helped Tijuana mount a comeback in the 60th minute by slotting a left-footed shot into the lower corner of the Santos net. Tijuana continued to push numbers forward in the waning moments, but could not complete the comeback.
Edgar Castillo was the lone American starter as Joe Benny Corona and Herculez Gomez entered in the second half. American defender Greg Garza was left on the bench for the defeat while Paul Arriola did not make the gameday squad.
Tijuana are now 3-3-1 with 10 points in the 2014 Clausura tournament and have taken just four points out of 54 in their last 18 road games. The LA Galaxy face Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals in March.
Highlights of the match are below.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne explains the role the U.S. Embassy plays when American clubs travel abroad
MEXICO CITY – Prior to their match against Liga MX side Pumas UNAM on Tuesday, the LA Galaxy received a rare treat -- a visit from the United States Ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne.
Wayne was presented a team-autographed jersey by U.S. international Landon Donovan – one of Hayes’ favorite athletes – and took in the match as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to UNAM at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario. The gesture was a thank you of sorts from the Galaxy as Wayne and his office provide vital assistance whenever American teams—be they the Galaxy or the U.S. National Team—travel to Mexico.
“In general, things go very smoothly. But once in a while, there is a visa problem or a passport gets lost and then we are available to help," Wayne told LA Galaxy Insider. "Sometimes there are questions about security and our security office is ready to help when American teams are here—basically to facilitate if there is a need for facilitation. Fortunately, as the Mexicans say ‘mi casa es su casa’ (my house is your house) so the attitude is very warm and receiving.”
The game of soccer is not a mystery for Wayne who was a former defender –he describes himself as being ‘not too fast but having a good leg’ –in his youth while also serving as a coach on his children’s soccer teams.
Although the ambassador’s work is to further the intricately complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico, Wayne admits that one of his favorite moments of the past year was when the two CONCACAF rivals faced off.
“It’s pretty exciting. There’s a lot of emotion in the stadium but not too many people cheering for the U.S. at the Azteca. Generally though, it’s a way to bring people together,” said Wayne. “For the last meeting between the two teams, we brought young people together in a city library. It was simply great fun. Like I said, sports cross borders and they teach valuable lessons like sportsmanship and leadership.”
Below are a series of photos from the match.
MEXICO CITY— Stefan Ishizaki’s experience with playing at altitude is quite limited due to his long playing career in the lowlands of Scandinavia and Italy, but on Tuesday, he received a major test.
The Swede started as the Galaxy fell 2-1 to Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City. Playing in “D.F.” presents a number of challenges for opposing players, but none greater than the suffocating elevation of a city that sits at an altitude of 7,350 ft.
During his 45 minute shift, Ishizaki was stationed in the center of midfield in front of defensive counterweight Baggio Hušidić as LA tried out a 4-1-3-2 formation during the first stanza. However, Ishizaki admittedly struggled to make an impact early.
“It was brutal. My first 25 minutes, I could not catch my breath. It was very tough. After 25 minutes, I got into the game and felt a lot better,” said Ishizaki. “But we played against a Mexican team with a style that we’re probably going to face when we play Tijuana and it was good to see that style first hand.”
“In our half, we did an okay job. We didn’t move our feet quick enough and we let them play through us too easily. I think that was because we didn’t have the energy to be quick,” Ishizaki continued. “The elevation played a part a little bit, but we train every day to be able to do these things. We weren’t able to do it today against a team in the middle of their season, despite having a month left of preseason.’
Although he was unable to get forward frequently on Tuesday, Ishizaki, who is likely to play wide on the right during the regular season, was pleased with the chance to play centrally against Pumas.
Said Ishizaki, “I like it. I like it a lot better when I’m fitter and I can make runs and support the strikers while also go down and get the ball from the back four. I like it when I’m fitter, but it was okay, particularly in the last 25 minutes of the half.”
And as for the altitude and travel to Mexico City? Ishizaki believes that the experience will serve LA well as the season begins.
“It was a good exercise. We have to get use to the travel and we’re going to play at elevation so it’s good to get used to it,” said Ishizaki. “I’m not used to it after playing in Europe. It was a good experience for me and now I have some idea what to expect.”
MEXICO CITY -- Ahead of Tuesday's closed-door scrimmage with Pumas UNAM, the LA Galaxy had a chance to practice at the training facilities of the seven-time Mexican champions on Tuesday.
The session lasted just over an hour and was attended by more than 30 representatives from Herbalife Mexico.
The photos can be seen below.