CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s CONCACAF Champions League opener against C.S. Cartaginés of Costa Rica…
MIX AND MATCH LINEUPS?
The LA Galaxy flattened Real Salt Lake 4-2 on Saturday in one of their finest showings of the season, but just how many of those that played against RSL win will suit up against Cartaginés?
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has traditionally rotated his squad in the Champions League, but the stakes are high in the first game with Cartaginés being the team that is most likely to test the Galaxy for Group 8 supremacy. Despite playing a league match just three days earlier, Arena is expected to mix several of his first team regulars with a few of his youngsters, who saw considerable action during the Guinness International Champions Cup earlier this month.
Of the reserves players likely to suit up in a starting position, forward Jose Villarreal appears to be an option to spell either Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan up top. The forward has been used in a reserve capacity for LA’s last two league matches, but has enjoyed success in the CCL in the past with two goals in four appearances during the 2012-13 tournament.
STOP PABLO HERRERA AND THE CARTAGINES ATTACK
Whoever lines up in defense for the LA Galaxy will be in for a test from a Cartaginés attack that will be led by in form midfielder Pablo Herrera.
Over the last three matches, Herrera has scored an impressive four goals for Los Brumosos while leading the team to a 2-0-1 record in that time. Herrera’s scoring tally includes a hat trick in Cartaginés’ 4-2 victory over Isidro Metapán in the CCL Group 8 opener. What makes Herrera dangerous has been his ability on and off the ball to get into dangerous positions behind opposing defenses.
Herrera isn’t the only weapon that La Vieja Metrópoli (The Old Metropolis) boast as he’ll be joined in the attack by former Costa Rican scoring champion Randall Brenes as well as the Galaxy’s 2011 MLS SuperDraft First Round selection Paolo Cardozo. The Uruguayan has already adapted well to Costa Rica and is expected to start for the club against the Galaxy.
Winning the CONCACAF Champions League is a major goal for the LA Galaxy as a club, but before they can entertain the prospect of continental dominance, they’ll need to start the tournament off well against Cartaginés
Unlike most Central American teams, who opt to bunker and move forward on the counter, Costa Rican clubs traditionally attempt to play an attacking style that may benefit the Galaxy. With Cartaginés likely to attack from the start, the fast pace of the match should benefit an LA team that sliced aprt league leading RSL days earlier.
Even though the Costa Ricans will attempt to stand toe to toe with a technically superior Galaxy side, it will be imperative for LA to score first. If hosts allow Cartaginés to strike first blood then they run the risk of being forced to break down a defense that will drop considerable numbers in the box.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com