Three Points: Rotation likely as the LA Galaxy look to deal with defensive minded Isidro Metapan
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano offers his Three Points to LA’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Isidro Metapán. The game is the Galaxy’s second in the tournament following their 2-0 victory over C.S. Cartaginés a month ago.
ARENA SEARCHING FOR DEPTH AGAINST METAPAN
The LA Galaxy have logged heavy minutes and heavy miles in recent weeks, so if they’re going to succeed during Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League date, then rotation is likely.
Where head coach Bruce Arena may need the most help is in the center of the midfield as Brazilian stalwarts Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas have logged heavy minutes this season and struggled during LA’s draw to D.C. United. The Galaxy boss should have plenty of options from experienced Pablo Mastroeni to scrappy second-year midfielder Rafael Garcia as well as Michael Stephens, who scored in Saturday’s draw. If Mastroeni is included, it would allow the inclusion of a younger midfield option to provide balance in the midfield.
Midfield won’t be only place where the competition for starting roles is heated as Arena has plenty of options up top. Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal seem to be the front runners after starting against the Colorado Rapids two weeks ago, but the Galaxy boss could also include a combination that includes forwards Charlie Rugg and Chandler Hoffman. The 23-year-old Hoffman is an intriguing option as he has yet to make a first team appearance, but is currently the Galaxy reserves leading goal scorer with six goals.
DON’T GET FRUSTRATED BY THE BUNKER
Whomever lines up for the LA Galaxy will likely be dealing with a lesson in patience as they’ll attempt to break down a compact Metapan side that is expected to bunker and search for goals on the counter.
As Metapan look to steal a point—and possibly three—at StubHub Center with their compact formation that is likely to drop numbers into their own final third, any opportunity found could be a golden one for LA. Look for the Galaxy to control possession by a substantial margin and attempt to use the flanks to whip in crosses to targets like Jack McBean, Kofi Opare or Jose Villarreal in order to pepper the Metapan net.
A quick goal could be a major benefit for the Galaxy against the Salvadorians. If they can grab a quick goal, it’d force Metapán to open up thus leaving more space for the LA attack to exploit. Of course, the longer that LA goes without a goal, the more frustration will build, aiding the Salvadorian clubs efforts.
Central American teams typically opt for a defensive posture in CONCACAF Champions League when facing their MLS or Mexican opponents, but Isidro Metapán will bring a several dangerous attacking option to StubHub Center on Wednesday.
Leading the way for Metapán is Panamanian forward Nicolas Muñoz, a target forward who earned the share of the tournament’s golden boot a year ago with six goals, including three against the Galaxy. This season, Muñoz has scored five goals in Metapán’s league play while tallying another during their continental campaign. Although he is skillful in the air, he can drift around the final third in search of scoring opportunities, meaning that LA’s defense will need to be on their toes as they look to slow him down.
Muñoz will need to carry the load for the Salvadorians as they'll be without many of their key attacking weapon including Andres "Ruso" Flores due to injury while Eliseo Quintanilla and Alfredo Pacheco will be out due to suspension for their suspected role in a match-fixing that scandal remains under investigation.