Galaxy ready to meet Puntarenas

LA looking forward to test against vaunted Costa Rican side

The Los Angeles Galaxy continue their preseason preparations on
Wednesday night at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium, where they will
host Costa Rican side Puntarenas FC in an international friendly.

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena admitted he doesn't know much, if
anything, about this week's opponent, although he does savor the idea of
having his club involved in a meaningful competition. The Galaxy have
not lost in any of their preseason matches -- five scrimmages, including
last Friday's 5-2 victory over San Diego State which featured three
goals by Edson Buddle -- and Arena said he's viewing Wednesday's game as
the first real indication of how far his team has progressed.

Not that he's been worried about the Galaxy's development. Unlike last
year at this time, when the Galaxy were deep into their roster overhaul
and adjusting to Arena's coaching in his first training camp with the
club, this preseason has progressed smoothly.

"I just think we're very far ahead from last year in all aspects of the
game," he said. "Last year we played the games a little too early for us
with a whole new group coming in. When we played the Pan-Pacific
(Championship) in the middle of February, that was a little too early.

"Now we're in the middle of March, which is a better time for us to be
playing open games."

Puntarenas currently are tied for second (with CF Universidad de Costa
Rica) in Costa Rica's Primera Division, nine points behind first-place
San Carlos FC, and have won only one of their last five matches (1-2-2).
Puntarenas, founded in 2004, is led by captain/defender Dario Delgado
Mora and were finalists in last season's Costa Rican League
championship, where they lost to CF Brujas on penalty kicks.

Puntarenas, who are coached by Uruguayan Jorge Walter Gonzalez Estevez,
qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup, now
known as the CONCACAF Champions League. They lost to the Houston Dynamo
2-1 in a competition that eventually was won by CF Pachuca, who beat CD
Guadalajara in the final.

Puntarenas had qualfied for the Champions Cup by virtue of their 2006
Torneo UNCAF championship.

"My sense is they're a good team and good competition," Arena said.
"It's competition in a gated game, which helps.

"When you play an exhibition in public you take it a little bit more
seriously. I think that's a start of our final preparations for the
opening game of league."

The Galaxy begin the regular season against the New England Revolution
on March 27 at The Home Depot Center.

Larry Morgan is a contributor to MLSnet.com.