HEREDIA, COSTA RICA – Much has been made of the rugged conditions that the LA Galaxy will face at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, and on Wednesday the club got their first taste of the stadium.
Head coach Bruce Arena ran his club through an hour-long training session ahead of Thursday’s CCL quarterfinal first leg against C.S. Herediano. During their session, the Galaxy familiarized themselves with FieldTurf surface as well as the intimate setting that will place the Herediano supporters within inches of the field.
“It’s always good to go to different places and experience different things,” said Galaxy captain Robbie Keane. “The atmosphere is always electric…if you play in the second division in the U.K. then a lot of the stadiums are like this. It’ll be a hostile environment…and it’s good to be involved in good games like this.”
Dealing with hostile environs is nothing new for LA as the Galaxy have now advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals two straight years with results in places like Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and Metapán, El Salvador.
“We saw video of [El Rosabal] and Marcelo [Sarvas] has told us that they’re right on top of you and screaming at you," said defender Todd Dunivant. "Fortunately, we’ve played in difficult places to play before and this will be another one, we have to be smart and be solid defensively. That’s our starting point.”
A result in Costa Rica will be vital for the Galaxy as an away-goal will put them in a good position heading into next Wednesday’s second leg. However, it won’t come easily as Herediano are currently unbeaten in four matches and boast Costa Rica’s leading goal scorer forward Yendrick Ruiz.
Ruiz and his Herediano teammates are not the only challenge that LA will face as the club has already received a hostile welcome in Costa Rica as fans of the Florenses greeted the team upon their landing at the airport. With no shortage of hostile conditions in store—on the field and in the stands—the Galaxy believe that their preparations for Thursday’s match must be that much more intense.
“It means that you have to prepare all that much better. Obviously, it’s not going to be the same as playing in a league game,” said Mike Magee, who scored on the road against Toronto FC in the Champions League quarterfinals last March. “We’re not going to be taken to as well and mentally, you’ve got to be all that much more prepared and you can’t overlook anything.
“It helps getting off the airport and to see the guys chanting at us,” Magee added. “For the most part, everyone that is playing has been in these games and I think that the young guys will see going out for warm-ups that we’re not well-liked here.”
But amid all the distractions and focus, the Galaxy are confident that they can leave with a result.
“We’re prepared so let’s go…we need to be prepared for them and play our game,” said Juninho. “We’re playing away and if we play smart then we can get a good result.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact me at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com