CARSON, Calif. – One point and they’re into the quarterfinals. That’s the situation awaiting the LA Galaxy in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match against CS Cartagines in Costa Rica.
The Galaxy are in first place in Group 8, thanks to last Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Isidro Metapan while second-place Cartagines has four points from a 1-1-1 record and Metapan, who host the Galaxy in El Salvador on October 24, is third with one point. Wednesday night’s game is the final one of the group stage for the Costa Rican side and unless they can defeat the Galaxy, the two-time defending MLS Cup champions will be through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
“It’s great,” said goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who made his Champions League debut last week against Isidro Metapan. “You never want it come down to the last game for a result.
“If we can take care of business on this trip it would make it real nice going forward.”
Wednesday’s game (7 p.m. (PT), Fox Soccer Plus, Univision Deportes (on delay) and KWKW 1330 AM) , will be played at Estadio Nacional (capacity of 35,100) in San Jose, Costa Rica instead of Cartagines’ regular home field after CONCACAF ruled that the lighting system at Estadio Jose Rafael Fello Meza Ivankovich, was inadequate. LA, who are 0-1-1 all-time in Costa Rica in the Champions League, opened their 2013-14 CCL campaign against Cartagines at StubHub Center on Aug. 20 with Robbie Keane scoring a pair of second half goals to claim a 2-0 victory.
“It was a difficult match. It was good for us to get three points at home,” Rowe said of last month’s win over Cartagines. “They were high intensity for most of the game. We thought they were going to die off in the second half and slow down a little bit.
“We thought we’d be able to break them down but they kept their energy going and gave us a tough game.”
Veteran midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who has started each of his club’s first two Champions League games, expects another difficult match.
“It’s going to be a completely different game,” he said, “with different issues than we deal with on a week-to-week basis in MLS.
“Obviously very skillful individuals all over the field and playing at home is going to be a big plus for them. For us it’s really important to come out and start real bright and do what we can to impose ourselves on them.”
Mastroeni said he wasn’t worried the Galaxy might be a little spent following Saturday’s emotional, but eventually unsatisfying, 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC in a much-anticipated Western Conference showdown. But he is confident the team has moved on and can put forth a strong effort Wednesday.
“I think we’re ready to rock and roll,” he said. “We’ve been preparing for it the last couple of days. They’re a good opponent in a tough environment.
“We’ll see if we can’t come away with a good result and lock this thing up.”