CARSON, Calif. – Tuesday’s rematch between the LA Galaxy and Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals (7 p.m., Fox Sports 2) at Estadio Caliente will not be for the faint of heart.
It will be the ultimate challenge and a test of character like no other.
Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas used even stronger terms to describe the impending showdown.
“It’s like a war, this kind of game,” he said. “You have to show them you are there to play, to fight for something you want.”
Last Wednesday’s first leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal series at StubHub Center was an intense matchup that turned into a tale of two halves. The Galaxy dominated the first 45 minutes and got the only goal they needed from Samuel in the 11th minute (on an assist from Robbie Keane). Tijuana then sustained heavy pressure in the second half against a Galaxy defense that refused to break.
But now it’s down to Estadio Caliente, where the crowd is expected to number well over 20,000. Club Tijuana historically has had great success on its home field and, in fact, shut out Chivas de Guadalajara 2-0 in its last game there.
“It’s going to be very hard,” Sarvas acknowledged. “We saw a little bit of that in the second half when they pushed forward.
“We just have to prepare our minds for the worst, for sure. I think we have mature players and the character to go there and face this game in the right way.”
Added Galaxy center back Leonardo, “At home I’m sure they’re going to bring it.”
The Galaxy improved to 11-6-3 all time in CONCACAF Champions League play, including 2-1-2 in the quarterfinals, after Wednesday’s hard-earned victory and are 2-3-0 against Mexican opposition in the regional competition.
Galaxy left back James Riley, who joined the club as a free agent during the preseason and has been filling for injured Todd Dunivant (hamstring), was a member of the Seattle Sounders team that earned a 1-0 win over CF Monterrey on Aug. 23, 2011 in CONCACAF Champions League play – the Sounders became only the second MLS team (FC Dallas was the first) to win on Mexican soil – and has a good idea what he and his Galaxy teammates will face Tuesday.
Their chances, he said, come down to the right mental approach.
“We just have to get a result of any kind,” he said. “We have to go with a result-oriented mind-set. It doesn’t have to be pretty and it doesn’t have to be good soccer.
“Just do what we need to do to get a result.”
Galaxy midfielder Juninho said the team must be “mentally prepared for anything.
“If you want to win something,” he said, “you have to play at that level.”