CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy primed and prepared, focused and readied themselves for their CONCACAF Champions League opener last week at The Home Depot Center against Motagua, calling it their biggest game of the year.
True to their preparation and attention, they came out and did well to beat the Hondurans 2-0. To not follow that performance up with another home victory over Costa Rican club Alajuelense on Thursday (10 pm ET/7pm PT, Fox Soccer, concacaf.com, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive) would be tantamount to wasting their first game.
“This is an important game,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said of the tilt against Alajuelense. “We said all along that these two games were important. We did our part in the first one and now we’ve got to do the same.”
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The Galaxy can climb to the top of the Group A table with a victory over the Costa Rican powerhouse. Motagua and Morelia are both without points from group play, the Mexican club having lost to Alajuelense last week. An LA win would put them three points clear of their Thursday opponents and any potential winner between Morelia and Motagua.
To jump out to such a strong start would be imperative.
“We have the toughest group in the competition,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Securing three points at home is going to be vital if you hope to advance.”
Of the five MLS teams participating in the CONCACAF Champions League, all but the Galaxy have played a match south of the border. Having the chance to take six points into their first away game in the competition — a Sept. 13 date at Morelia — would alleviate some of the pressure that would come with a must-win road match in difficult circumstances.
“Every game we play at home, we have to win,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “In a competition like this when you play away, they’re difficult games. It’s always important to win our home games and get what we can when we play on the road.”
The Galaxy might rely on some of their new firepower to try and get past Alajuelense. Robbie Keane was tossed into the fray early for LA. Arriving from Europe, Keane started last Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes, having had just one training session with his new team. In the 21st minute, the Irishman opened his MLS scoring account.
Keane could see action once more on Thursday. While he’s had a chance to acclimate himself to a new club and a new environment, he has not had the same opportunity to familiarize himself with Alajuelense.
“I’m not too sure of the team,” Keane said. “Everything is fairly new to me. As soon as I play against these teams, being here a little bit longer, I’ll understand the teams we’re playing against.”
Still, much like he knew little of San Jose but found success, a lack of knowledge of Alajuelense and Costa Rican soccer may not be the worst thing.
“Sometimes it’s nice going to games not knowing who you’re playing against,” Keane said. “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
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