CARSON, Calif. -- For MLS clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League, dealing with highly defensive opponents is part of the game and the LA Galaxy expect it to be no different when they host Salvadoran club Isidro Metapán on Thursday at The Home Depot Center.
Although Metapán are considered to be one of the most dynamic offensive clubs in their native land, even the most offensive clubs often opt for a defense first approach or "bunkering" when playing in MLS or Mexican opposition in CCL play. Expected to drop as many as ten players back, the Salvadorans will likely look to clog the midfield and limit the Galaxy from creating scoring chances due to their added numbers in the back. This approach places the onus on forwards Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane as well as the Galaxy midfield to break a group that is expected to be highly compact and organized in front of goal.
Below are thoughts from Keane and Donovan on facing a Metapán side expected to be highly defensive on Thursday:
KEANE: "I certainly think that probably will be the case tomorrow, but its a good test for the players, because we're going to come up against teams like that also in the league. It's good that we know how to deal with that, how to break teams down."
DONOVAN: "That would be the expectation. If that changes, we will be surprised I think, but we deal with that a lot here and having to break teams down, and tomorrow will be the same."
According to El Gráfico, El Salvador's largest sports daily newspaper, four Metapán players did not make the trip to the United States due to visa issues including starting center back Ernesto Aquino. Also according to the Salvadoran daily , Metapán trained with the following formation before coming to Southern California: GK Fidel Mondragón; RB: Luis Perla, CB: Ricardo Alvarado, CB: Milton Molina, LB: Alfredo Pacheco; RM: Cristian Sanchez, CM: Omar Mejia, CM: Ramon Sanchez, LM: Paolo Suarez; FWD: Eliseo Quintanilla, FWD: Nicolas Muñoz.
Below is a thought from Galaxy midfielder David Beckham on the Salvadoran club:
"We've always respected teams like we'll be playing tomorrow. It doesn't matter if we've heard too much about them. They've still got a very good team unit and we know enough about them to know that we have to play well to win the game. We're well aware of the players, and well aware of individual players that they have, its about our own game and If we play our own game, then we're difficult to stop. But we've got to do that."
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan is still dealing with a left hamstring strain that has his status in question for Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League opener against Isidro Metapán.
The injury first surfaced "about ten minutes in" during last Wednesday's U.S. friendly victory over Mexico at the Estadio Azteca and ultimately caused him to be subbed out at half time of the 1-0 U.S. win. Although he is not listed on the club's injury report, Donovan confirmed to reporters following Wednesday's training session that it was a mild strain, but the Galaxy captain is hopeful that he'll be able to play a role on Thursday.
"We're going to see how it is tomorrow. We'll kind of play it by ear and hope that I can contribute tomorrow."
CARSON, Calif. -- In preparation for the LA Galaxy's stiff test on Thursday in the CONCACAF Champions League against Isidro Metapán, LAGalaxy.com has provided another fun refresher for those learning to learn a bit more about the CCL.
On the heels of the informative "CCL 101" video, the Galaxy offered this Pop Quiz for those looking to learn about the competition:
CARSON, Calif. – On Thursday, the LA Galaxy’s quest for continental dominance begins as LA plays host to Salvadoran club Isidro Metapán in the opener for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Here at the Insider, I wanted to give you a brief look at the Salvadorans to go along with the great primer already located at LAGalaxy.com.
History: Metapán may have been founded in 2000 and promoted to El Salvador’s top flight in 2001, but the club from the tiny municipality outside of Santa Ana has quickly become one of the top teams in El Salvador by winning six Primera Division titles: Clausura 2007, Apertura 2008, Clausura 2009, Clausura 2010, Apertura 2010, Apertura 2011.
Key Players: Headlined by goal scorers Jorge Ramirez, Paolo Suarez (the older brother of Liverpool FC’s Luis) and Panamanian international Nicolás Muñoz, Metapán boast one of the most dynamic attack in El Salvador. Metapán also boast a plethora of former MLS talent including midfielders Eliseo Quintanilla (DC United), Ramon Sanchez (San Jose), and defender Alfredo Pacheco (New York Red Bulls)
Standings: Metapán are currently in second place in the Clausura 2012 behind Salvadoran giants Alianza. Although Los Caleros are tied with Alianza on points, the San Salvador based club holds a goal difference advantage on Metapán.
News: During the club’s recent 1-1 draw with Juventud Independiente on Sunday, starting goalkeeper Henry Hernandez suffered a broken leg. Hernandez had started the past two matches for Metapán, but with him out, the goalkeeper position falls to early season starter Fidel Mondragón.
Stadium: Metapan play at the 8,000 seat Estadio Jorge Calero Suárez. The fierce venue was home to a pair of huge Metapan victories in last year's tournament as the Salvadorans defeated Mexican giants Santos Laguna 2-0 in the group stage and Pumas UNAM, 2-1 during the Quarterfinals.
What the Galaxy coaches say about Metapán: “They’ve got a very good midfield particularly in the center in terms of passing and they’ve got a lot of left footed players so they tend to utilize that part of the field an awful lot. You can see that they’re well-coached and they’re a team that knows how to play at home and on the road, we know that we’ve got a tough game ahead of us.” - Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo.
What the Galaxy players say about Metapán: “Their team is going to be very technical and you know that they’re going to come in and obviously, play for a point. Not to say that they’re not going to try and attack us, but we’ve got to take advantage of that. It’s going to be a tough game, they already won their first game so they’re coming in off of three points and they want to make sure that they leave with a point, but we want to do our part and make sure we get a win.” – Galaxy defender Sean Franklin.
For even more, check out Mark Rogondino’s CCL 101 below:
CARSON, Calif. -- Unlike in years past, only one team will advance from the newly formatted CONCACAF Champions League group stage. A change that that midfielder Marcelo Sarvas believes requires the Galaxy to have a killer instinct, beginning with this Thursday's match against Isidro Metapán.
The Brazilian midfielder is keenly aware of the difficulties of the tournament's old format as last season, while playing for Costa Rica's Alajuelense, his club bounced from the first round of the tournament last season on goal difference despite tying the Galaxy and Mexican club Morelia on 12 points.
Following training on Tuesday, Sarvas admitted that the new CCL format leaves little room for error for clubs.
"I prefer the old format, not only for Mexican teams or American teams, but you have more chance for the other teams from Central America, but when it's only one team that goes through, you can not lose points, you have to be sharp with what you're doing. So I think that you have to be a killer because you know that you're not going to have a lot of chances."
CARSON, Calif. – Ever steadily, LA Galaxy defender Leonardo is working his way back from injury, but the Brazilian is aware that he still has a long way to go.
The 24-year-old Brazilian defender has been unavailable since undergoing an MRI on June 5th that showed no structural damage in his surgically repaired right knee following an injury suffered during a Reserve League match against the Portland Timbers on June 2nd.
Leonardo was back on the training ground on Monday morning, not participating in full training, but rather running laps around the ground during the session. After training on Monday, I got a chance to catch up with Leonardo and although he is still listed as out due to right knee inflammation according to the club's injury report, the Brazilian is pleased with his progress.
“I feel that I’m at about 50% or 60%,” Leonardo said. “And I think that in a week to two weeks from now, I should be able to see how I am with the ball. But we’ll have to see day by day.”
Leonardo’s optimism is certainly commendable as the Brazilian’s rehabilitation from knee surgery to repair tears to his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) last April has been a frustrating one.
After seemingly returning to action by making a pair of Reserve League appearances as well as a full 90 minute appearance during the Galaxy’s U.S. Open Cup match against the Carolina Railhawks, the Brazilian’s injury against Portland and subsequent MRI provided a setback. But since the MRI, Leonardo has been slowly working his way back to the training field.
“I started six to seven weeks ago. I’ve been working hard inside [the weight room] and about a week ago, I started feeling stronger and faster,” said Leonardo. “But I’m being patient with the work that I have been putting in.”
Not interested in rushing back from injury, Leonardo understands that the only way for him to return to full fitness is through a gradual return.
“I feel better,” Leonardo said. “I need four to five to six weeks so that I can gain more strength and muscle. I just have to go step by step.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Like the rest of his LA Galaxy teammates, Hector Jimenez is targeting success in the CONCACAF Champions League, but while he assists the Galaxy in their bid for continental dominance, the second-year midfielder would like another item checked off his to-do list.
Despite developing into a key contributor for the Galaxy this season by making 12 appearances in league play while tallying a goal and an assist, Jimenez has yet to make a full 90 minute performance to date. The fleet-footed winger may finally get his wish during LA's upcoming four games in ten days stretch which begins on Thursday against Isidro Metapán.
Heading into Thursday’s match, Jimenez admits that the Galaxy expect to advance in the tournament.
“We definitely expect to qualify, there’s less teams in the group and they’re very important games for us and we’ve got to get results. It’s very important for this organization to do well in this tournament.”
(On the importance of the idle weekend...)
JIMENEZ: “Definitely, for some of the guys, it’s been taxing on their legs because we’ve been playing a lot of games and it’s definitely relaxing to get our legs freshened up and get started again.”
(On potentially going 90…)
JIMENEZ: "Hopefully, I know Bruce is going to change the lineup here and there and hopefully I’ll be able to get a few more minutes because we’ve got a heavy schedule coming up. He’s definitely going to try new things and see how the team can do best. If he gives me the chance then I’ll do my best to take advantage of it."
CARSON, Calif. -- The batteries recharged after a rare weekend off, the LA Galaxy returned to the training ground on Monday in preparation for Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League opener against El Salvador's Isidro Metapan.
The Metapan match on Thursday signals the beginning of another long stretch of games for LA, who play four games over the next ten days. Ahead of another long stretch, the Galaxy admitted that the week end off was key for their physical and mental state heading into CCL and the closing stages of the league calendar.
Below are a series of thoughts from head coach Bruce Arena and defender A.J. DeLaGarza on the club's state after a bye.
ARENA: “I think it was important, we’ve had a very difficult stretch and a very difficult year. we’ve basically finished all our games on the road in the league. I think we have two remaining; it’s been a long haul. To get a little time off is good and hopefully, our guys will be fresh for these next four games that will be very challenging.”
DELAGARZA: "It was good, we had a lot of weekend, week day games for quite a while so it was good to get a couple of days off and clear our minds heading into another physical challenge in these next four games. It’s another big stretch, obviously CONCACAF is huge and for our first two games to be here, they’re must win games and with the league games, we can kind of separate ourselves and really push for maybe a top spot."
CARSON, Calif. -- The polls are open for MLSsoccer.com's 24 under 24.
The annual ranking of the top 24 players under the age of 24 began on Monday. Last season, a pair of Galaxy players were selected as defender Omar Gonzalez was ranked No. 8 while midfielder Juninho finished No. 14
Fans can vote for the players here
The following 11 Galaxy players are listed:
Rafael Garcia, midfielder
Bryan Gaul, defender/midfielder
Hector Jimenez, midfielder
Jack McBean, forward
Tommy Meyer, defender
Brian Perk, goalkeeper
Brian Rowe, goalkeeper
Michael Stephens, midfielder
Jose Villarreal, midfielder/forward
Kenney Walker, midfielder