CARSON, Calif. – It wasn’t pretty, but the LA Galaxy got the job done in Wednesday’s 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Isidro Metapán.
Using a lineup made up almost entirely of players under the 24, the Galaxy grabbed an early lead on a 6th-minute goal from veteran midfielder Laurent Courtois and then held on to maintain the clean sheet and place themselves in the driver’s seat in Group 8 play. A win or a draw in next week’s game against C.S. Cartaginés in Costa Rica will place them through to the CCL quarterfinals for the third straight tournament.
Although the physical and, at times, chaotic match was hardly aesthetically pleasing, the Galaxy were overjoyed with the result.
“Three points is three points. Whether it is Barcelona style tiki-taka or it is ugly soccer, three points is three points,” said center back Kofi Opare, who will be unavailable for next Wednesday’s CCL match due to yellow card accumulation. “We’ll take that with us.”
The young lineup that was run out by Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena displayed confidence from the outset—especially in helping Courtois bag his goal early on a setup from Jose Villarreal, but it was the defensive performances that proved the most important. Tommy Meyer and Opare formed a successful tandem as both made big plays to prevent Metapan chances that appeared destined for the back of the net.
“For 80 minutes, they were pressing us pretty hard and for the most part with us, it was about staying focused and not losing our concentration especially as they tried to break off on the counter,” said Opare. “We were able to stay clicked in mentally.”
However, when the two center backs or full backs Rafael Garcia and Greg Cochrane weren’t able to make the stop, backup ‘keeper Brian Rowe was able to rescue the Galaxy. The 24-year-old goalkeeper finished with a total of four saves on the night
“We did well getting behind the back of the ball and close it out for a full 90 minutes,” Rowe told reporters after the game. “Any opportunity that I have to get 90 is great for me. It gives me confidence and we had a great time effort to defend. … They had some opportunities, but I thought that we did a good job defensively to clear most of them.”
While Rowe was modest about his showing, Opare raved about the performance of the goalkeeper.
“He did an excellent job,” said Opare. “He’s a confident ‘keeper, who commands his box... which instills confidence in us to go out there and perform.”
With three points in hand and many key players rested, the Galaxy reserves will know that their job was done if LA is able to earn three points against MLS Supporters’ Shield leaders Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.
“You have to have players that you can confide in on a Wednesday game to allow the first team guys to get some rest and really hammer three points this weekend,” said Mastroeni. “Our goal this week was to get six points. We took care of three of those and now it’s about to preparation to play [Seattle] on the weekend.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com