LA Galaxy head to Mexico hoping to keep Champions League dream alive
CARSON, Calif. – There’s still lingering disappointment from the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 loss to Monterrey in last Wednesday’s first leg of their two-game, aggregate goal CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series. But there is a bright side, too.
“The good thing about football,” the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane said, “is there’s always another game.”
“It’s not doom and gloom,” Keane was quick to point out. “We can turn this around on Wednesday. It’s going to be in our hands. It’s going to be tough, but it will make the result even sweeter if we win.”
The Galaxy, who lost last week on two late goals by Monterrey’s Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris, certainly are no strangers to the challenge that awaits them. There was, for example, last year’s MLS Western Conference semifinal series against San Jose. The Galaxy dropped the first leg 1-0 at The Home Depot Center but went into San Jose for the second leg and emerged a decisive 3-1 winner, handing the Earthquakes their first home loss of the year.
Monterrey are the two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League winner and the only team in the history of the competition (in its current form) to maintain an unbeaten record in the semifinal round.
The impact of the series is not lost on Galaxy coaches and players.
“It’s certainly a competition we believe is important for our club,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “We’re playing the two-time defending champion. To get a result and move on in the competition would be a fantastic result.
“Obviously we should have been thinking a little bit more that way the last 10 minutes the other night. There’s a challenge ahead, and our team is certainly capable of leaving Monterrey as winners. That’s our objective and we’re going to get after it.”
The Galaxy who are expected to welcome back midfielder Juninho, who was forced to leave last Wednesday’s match in the 61st minute because of a neck injury, is more than capable of responding to the challenge, according to various players.
“It’s going to be tough,” said defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute in the series opener, “but we have the players that can do it.”
Added midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, “This team has fought back before in these situations. It will be very difficult, but I believe we can come back with a good result.”
Veteran goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini said he wouldn’t be surprised if there’s even a little divine intervention come Wednesday night.
“In the past,” he said, “this team has shown it can do miracles sometimes.”