MONTERREY, Mexico – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano offers his Three Points to the club’s CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal second leg against C.F. Monterrey…
PRESS EARLY AND FINISH YOUR CHANCES
The mission is a difficult one for the LA Galaxy, but the solution is incredibly simple; just put the ball into the back of the Monterrey net.
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LA rattled off numerous opportunities during the first leg, but ultimately the Galaxy’s poor finishing allowed Monterrey to stay in the match before Los Rayados tallied two late second half goals to win 2-1. Down on aggregate, LA has no choice but to press Monterrey from the opening whistle as they look to claw their way back into the series. An early goal could prove immense for the Galaxy, providing both confidence and pressure on the home side, who are seeking to qualify for the Champions League Finals for the third straight tournament.
Expect attackers Robbie Keane and Mike Magee to press Monterrey defenders Hiram Mier and José María Basanta from the outset as the pair enjoyed considerable success stretching Monterrey’s defense during the first leg. But this time, success will only be measured in the number of goals that LA can produce.
A GREATER ROLE FOR DONOVAN?
One player that could play a major role in the Galaxy’s early press for a goal is Landon Donovan, who is inching closer and closer to a substantial minutes.
Donovan already has a pair of appearances off the bench under his belt, but while his fitness remains at a top level, the 31-year-old attacker admits that his sharpness remains a work in progress. Last week, the Galaxy forward had several opportunities to double LA’s lead, but ultimately could not find the back of the net. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena asserted on Monday that he doubts Donovan is fit enough to play a complete 90 minutes, but that does not necessarily mean he may not opt to start the veteran attacker.
By placing Donovan in the starting lineup, the Galaxy could raise the tempo on Monterrey from the start as they search for the all-important early goal. However, Arena may opt to use Donovan off the bench as an energy substitution, particularly, with extra time a possibility.
KEEP YOUR FOCUS – AND POSITION – THROUGHOUT THE MATCH
During the first leg, the Galaxy showed that they could go toe-to-toe with C.F. Monterrey –and even over power the Mexican side at times— over the course of 75 minutes, but a late collapse doomed LA to a 2-1 defeat. For the Galaxy to erase that deficit and advance to the final, a renewed sense of focus will be required.
WATCH: First leg highlights
In the lead up to the second leg, the Galaxy stressed remaining concentrated throughout the match in order to prevent the late lapses that have cost the team twice this season. To silence Monterrey, defensive positioning will be vital as the Galaxy’s central defenders were able to effectively mark Rayados forwards Aldo De Nigris and Humberto Suazo early on. When Monterrey was able to lure defenders out of position, substantial pressure was placed on the Galaxy net. Also important will be LA’s ability to close out Monterrey’s wide threat as Los Rayados were able to take advantage of a pair of defensive breakdowns on the flank to score both of their goals last week.
If LA can stay organized defensively then a historic comeback against the two-time defending Champions League winners isn’t out of the question.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com