Three Points: LA Galaxy eager to advance from group play with a result against C.S. Cartagines
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica— LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s CONCACAF Champions League match against C.S. Cartaginés. If the Galaxy can earn a point on Wednesday, they will officially book a place in the CCL Quarterfinals as the winners of Group 8.
RESERVE-LADEN ROSTER LIKELY IN COSTA RICA AS LA LOOK TO MANAGE THEIR SQUAD
The job ahead of the LA Galaxy this week is very similar to one that they undertook a week earlier—not only must they get a result in the Champions League, but they’ll also need to rest up enough to prepare adequately for Sunday afternoon’s clash with the Portland Timbers.
As Bruce Arena looks to manage both games, expect him to rely on his team’s depth by rolling out a pair of dramatically different lineups in each game. Against Cartaginés, expect the Galaxy to use a similar squad to the one that defeated Isidro Metapán a week earlier as the LA head coach opts for a blend of first team players and reserves. This means that starters like Robbie Keane, Juninho and Omar Gonzalez will likely get the night off while Jose Villarreal, Pablo Mastroeni and Tommy Meyer are frontrunners to fill in for the first team players.
If the reserves can get the job done against Cartaginés then LA will be able to not only book their passage to the Champions League Quarterfinals, but also be perfectly set up for this Sunday’s vital league match in Portland.
COUNTERATTACK KEY FOR THE GALAXY AS CARTAGINES TRY TO STAY ALIVE
With their CONCACAF Champions League hopes resting on this result, expect C.S. Cartaginés to search for a fast start, but that may suit the Galaxy just fine.
In the first meeting between the two sides at StubHub Center last month, the Costa Ricans opted for a similar style of play. However, they were unable to break through the Galaxy defense as LA were able to absorb the pressure and hit back on the counter leading to a pair of second half goals by Robbie Keane and a 2-0 victory. Although LA was able to deal with the Costa Ricans pressure at home, they’ll be in for a different set of circumstances on the road at the Estadio Nacional as they must overcome a hostile crowd as well as a desperate opponent.
While the Costa Ricans search for an early lead, expect the Galaxy to use the pace of wingers like Hector Jimenez and Gyasi Zardes to find gaps that Cartaginés leave in defense. If LA can exploit Cartaginés’ pressing style, look for the Galaxy to have plenty of looks on goal of their own.
WHAT ROLE WILL LANDON DONOVAN PLAY?
The LA Galaxy’s dynamic forward Landon Donovan traveled to Costa Rica, but whether he’ll be able to participate in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match remains a question mark.
Donovan was unable to participate in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC, but by traveling to Costa Rica, all indications are that he may be—at the very least—available for Wednesday’s match. A start seems like a tall order at the moment for a player that has yet to participate in a full training session since injuring his ankle against D.C. United on Sept. 14, but having Donovan available off the bench, could be a valuable weapon for Bruce Arena’s side. In the home leg against Cartagines, Donovan entered the game just after the hour mark and set up both of his team’s goals.
Expect Donovan to begin Wednesday’s game on the bench, but with an important league match against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, don’t look for Donovan to be called into action unless his team is need of a goal late in the game.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com