SSAN JOSE, Costa Rica – It was mission accomplished for the LA Galaxy in Costa Rica. Facing a busy week with important matches in two competitions, the Galaxy utilized their depth and dominated C.S. Cartaginés 3-0 on Wednesday to clinch a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for the third consecutive tournament.
Two of LA’s youngest led the way as Jack McBean and Chandler Hoffman tallied early with veteran midfielder Laurent Courtois rounding out the scoring. The visitors jumped on the Costa Ricans from the opening whistle and found themselves up by three goals inside the opening 30 minutes.
Prior to the match, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena preached the importance dictating the pace and tempo of the game in the early stages of the matches and his side clearly took heed after their impressive display to start the match.
“It was a few spurts of just good attacking soccer,” said LA’s captain on the night Pablo Mastroeni. “We did a pretty decent job of keeping them in our attacking third and doing something with our [possession]. Then we had three nice goals and you couldn’t have asked for a better start. Then to carry it out and not concede a goal, it’s a testament to the work that these guys put in tonight.”
While it was a complete team performance on the night, no player was more dominant than McBean as his size and ability to hold up play proved beneficial on both sides of the ball for the Galaxy. The 18-year-old had a hand in all three Galaxy goals—scoring the first before helping to set up each of the next two– while also helping to relieve pressure on the LA defense throughout the second half and making life difficult for the Cartaginés defense, helping LA keep the shut out during a tense second half.
It wasn’t purely a solo effort as Hoffman’s ability to slip behind the Costa Rican defense befuddled the hosts, but it was McBean that was the star. The teenager’s size has always caused problems for the Galaxy’s CCL opponents and Wednesday’s night was no different as he was able to impose himself on the Cartaginés’ back four despite constantly having a defender draped on his back. By the end of the night, McBean had been tackled 22 times, suffering a game-high six fouls, the first of which led to the freekick that produced his sixth minute goal.
“It was a hard fought game. Chandler and myself did well [on both sides of the ball] defensively, we [forced] turnovers and then scored goals,” said McBean. “We went out there with the mentality to play hard and it worked.”
The Galaxy will now head into their final Group 8 match against Isidro Metapán on Oct. 24 in El Salvador with only seeding concerns. With LA, who join Cruz Azul and Toluca as the only three teams to win each of their first three games, still needing to book a ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs, expect a similar reserve-laden squad to be sent to Central America.
Although the Galaxy had every right to be jovial about their berth in CCL quarterfinals, Mastroeni—the oldest player on the field on Wednesday at age 37—preached patience and focus as LA turn the page to Sunday’s match against the Timbers.
“[The match in El Salvador] is so far away,” said Mastroeni. “Tonight is about enjoying this victory and getting back to the [United States] and preparing for a big game this weekend.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com