One of the keys to winning in the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League is relatively simple: accrue wins and points at home.
Saying that, the LA Galaxy should have good momentum to start Group A with its first two matches in the friendly confines of The Home Depot Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, California.
Having never lost in 14 games this year at The Home Cepot Center, the Galaxy open with Motagua of Honduras on Tuesday, then Alajuelense of Costa Rica on August 25.
BUY TICKETS: LA Galaxy vs CD Motagua
"In this competition the key for any team, is to do well at home, first and foremost," Galaxy associate coach Dave Sarachan said. "So when we have these teams at our place, we've got to get three points because going there is always a difficult task."
Los Angeles has the best record in Major League Soccer with 13 victories in 25 matches, and is in the unique position of starting the Champions League by playing consecutive home matches. Some teams would prefer not to have that pressure. The Galaxy has welcomed it.
"We're actually happy with the schedule that we have the first two games at home," Sarachan said.
Unlike last year, when the Galaxy was eliminated in the Preliminary Round by the second-division Puerto Rico Islanders, this time they were able to bypass the initial knockout phase and qualify directly for the Group Stage.
Unlike some teams in Central America, the Galaxy should be familiar with Motagua -- at least three players anyway.
Directed by former Guatemalan national team coach Ramón Maradiaga, Motagua has three international midfielders who have played in MLS -- Amado Guevara (New York/New JerseyMetroStars, Chivas USA, Toronto FC), Milton Reyes (D.C. United, Dallas Burn) and Ivan Guerrero (Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, D.C., Colorado Rapids).
"They've got a very good coach," Sarachan said. "I have great respect for him. They're going to be well coached. We've seen a little of them on tape. They're a good team. In this competition, the key for any team, they'll be organized. They've got pretty decent speed on the flanks and some experience."
While the Galaxy has some impressive attacking weapons in U.S. international Landon Donovan and English national team midfielder David Beckham, Sarachan was more concerned about outcomes than playing pretty soccer.
"It is about results, first and foremost," he said. "If you can get results by making the attempt to play soccer -- the way you would be picturing it, where its possession, there's movement, both sides of the ball are active -- that's all a bonus. But at the end of the day, it's clearly about points. It's clearly about results.
"Sometimes those games require just rolling up your sleeves and not about pretty soccer. We understand that. We have enough guys who have been a part of a lot of these games, which is really a bonus, too."
The Galaxy will hit the road for the first time against Morelia of Mexico on September 13 and Alajuelense on September 21.
Playing south of the Rio Grande, particularly in Central America has turned into an adventure and a half for many U.S. club teams.
"It's always a challenge on almost every level: the logistics of lodging, travel, heat, venue, gamesmanship, refereeing," Sarachan said. "It's always a challenge as a team mentally to make sure everyone's pretty much prepared that if it can go wrong, it likely will.
"Mentally, that's a huge obstacle to make sure we're on top of. You go in with some expectation, but you have to be flexible. There are some things that change, always on the fly."
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