Preview: LA vs Islanders
Puerto Rico Islanders (6-7-5, 6th place USL Conference in USSF Division-2) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (12-3-4, 1st place MLS Western Conference)
5 p.m. PT, Fox Soccer Channel, Galavisión
A rout in the first leg of this series wasn't exactly unexpected, given the LA Galaxy’s success in 2010 and Puerto Rico’s struggles in USL. However, the manner in which the 4-1 match played out last week was nothing short of stunning. Puerto Rico shredded the Galaxy defense for two first-half goals and added two more before gifting a goal to LA late in the game.
Puerto Rico are the seasoned CONCACAF Champions League veterans while LA are the wide-eyed tournament debutants, and that disparity showed up in the first leg. If form holds, the Islanders will advance to the group stage while the Galaxy will be left with an embarrassing setback and possibly the low point of 2010 to date.
But the Galaxy haven't won 12 regular-season games without having overcome difficult circumstances. This is a bit extreme, but Bruce Arena's men still have a chance – and even if they're the only ones who believe in themselves, it seems that could be a good place for the MLS team to start.
Puerto Rico Islanders
Puerto Rico didn't have any league activity following their win in Los Angeles, which could be a good thing. The Islanders were able to return home, rest and recover from their long trip to the West Coast and prepare for the Galaxy.
Easily their most important game of 2010, the Islanders are in line to reach their third consecutive Champions League group stage. Puerto Rico were the darlings of the tournament in 2008-09 when the club reached the semifinals before losing to Cruz Azul in penalties. Needing a win, draw or a less-than-four-goal loss, ex-FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke and his team are in the driver’s seat.
Los Angeles Galaxy
Things went from bad to worse for the Galaxy. After losing to Puerto Rico, they had a chance to atone themselves at home last weekend but instead dropped a 3-2 result to Chicago. The game though was all but an embarrassment after 20 minutes as Chicago scored three early goals. The Galaxy fought back but never did find an equalizer.
LA's defense had been the team’s strength through June, but once July hit, the Galaxy began to surrender goals by the handful. In their latest futile stretch, they've yielded an astonishing nine goals in three games, all at home.
Heroes vs. Villains
Landon Donovan vs. Nicholas Addlery. If the Galaxy are to get anywhere close to mounting an historic comeback, Donovan must lead the attack. The defending MLS MVP must get goals and help set them up, and must do so early on. Like the rest of the squad, Donovan wasn't much of a factor in the first match, although the Galaxy were recipients of several corner kicks. Addlery scored twice against the Galaxy and another goal at home will almost certainly seal the series in favor of Puerto Rico.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm…”
Puerto Rico have eight wins in CONCACAF Champions League play, among them home victories over Mexican sides Cruz Azul and Santos.