CARSON, Calif. – The disappointment from Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Monterrey in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series remained fresh Friday, but all was not lost on the LA Galaxy.
Their spirits are up and their confidence is unshaken entering next week’s rematch at Monterrey’s Estadio Tecnologico. All they have to do is look at Wednesday’s game, a hard-fought battle Monterrey won with two goals in the final eight minutes, to know there’s not much separating them from the Liga MX side.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA vs Monterrey (first half)
“I think the stigma of playing Mexican teams is starting to wear off a little bit,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “You saw it start with Seattle and Tigres” -- the Sounders recently became the first MLS team to eliminate a Mexican opponent in the knockout stages of the Champions League – “and anyone who watched our game on Wednesday will see that wasn’t any sort of domination like there used to be. Not only that, but we were the better team, the more positive team.
“Better finishing and we’re up 3-0 in that game. We just have to play smarter and finish our chances when we get them.”
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena sounded similarly optimistic.
“I thought we played well,” Arena said. “In this game you see all the time teams that don’t play well get results. And sometimes you gotta scratch your head when you’re that team.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA vs Monterrey (second half)
“You have to say, ‘Listen, we got a result but we didn’t play well.’ This game I would say we played well and didn’t get a result. That’s not the worst thing, but we’re not in this thing to just play well. We’re in this to win and try to advance.
“That part’s obviously disappointing.”
The Galaxy had taken a 1-0 lead on Wednesday in the 28th minute on a goal by defender A.J. DeLaGarza. But Monterrey, the two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League winners, rallied on goals by Humberto Suazo in the 82nd minute and Aldo de Nigris eight minutes later for the stunning victory.
“I thought it was a good game, a real good game,” Arena said. “It’s actually what I expected, a bunch of good players on the field.
“For our region it was a real positive.”
Arena said he is confident the Galaxy can respond to the kind of adversity they will face Wednesday in Monterrey in the final leg of the aggregate-goal series in which away goals count more.
“It’s not anything we haven’t faced before,” Arena said. “It certainly won’t be easy, but we gotta go there with the attitude we’re going to win the game and let the math take care of itself.”