Match Report: LA Galaxy Fall 1-0 to Club León in Leagues Cup 2023 Opener at Dignity Health Sports Park

LOS ANGELES (Wednesday, July 26, 2023) – Beginning their Leagues Cup 2023 campaign, the LA Galaxy fell 1-0 to Liga MX side Club León before 20,776 fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Wednesday night.

Leagues Cup – West Region Group 3
Following the loss to Club León, the Galaxy sit in third place (0-1-0, 0 points) in Group 3 of the West Region behind León (first place; 1-0-1, 5 points) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (second place; 0-0-1, 1 point). For the Galaxy to advance to the Knockout Round of Leagues Cup, LA must defeat Vancouver in regulation time or play to a tie and beat Whitecaps FC in a penalty-kick shootout. 

Goal-Scoring Plays
LEO – Angel Mena (Osvaldo Rodriguez), 58th minute: Osvaldo Rodriguez delivered a looping pass into the penalty area to Angel Mena, whose half-volleyed shot from close range was finished into the bottom left corner.

Postgame Notes

  • Wednesday’s match marked the first-ever meeting between the LA Galaxy and Club León.
  • The Galaxy hold a 3-2-4 (15 GF, 14 GA) record in nine matches played across all competitions dating back to May 31. 
  • LA has posted a 4-2-1 (12 GF, 8 GA) in its last seven matches played at home across all competitions dating back to May 10.
  • In 12 matches played at home across all competitions during the 2023 campaign, the Galaxy hold a 5-5-2 record. 
  • LA completed 472 passes in the match against Club León (358 completed passes). 
  • The Galaxy held 55.3% of possession compared to Club León’s 44.7% of possession. 
  • Novak Mićović made his LA Galaxy debut, starting and making four saves in the match against Club León. 
  • Jalen Neal completed 78 of 81 passes (96.3%), won four possessions and one tackle and made one interception. 
  • Tony Alfaro made his first LA Galaxy start, logging 90 minutes and winning seven possessions. 
  • Uri Rosell made his first appearance for the Galaxy dating back to May 20, logging 45 minutes of action and completing 33 of 35 passes (94.3%) in the match against Club León.

Next Game
Next up, the LA Galaxy close out Leagues Cup group stage play by hosting Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday, July 30. The match on July 30 kicks off at 6:00 p.m. PT and will be broadcasted live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. 
Leagues Cup 2023 – West Region Group 3 
LA Galaxy vs. Club León 
Wednesday, July 26, 2023 – Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)

Goals by Half                1          2          F
LA Galaxy                     0          0          0
Club León                     0          1          1

Scoring Summary:
LEO: Mena (Rodriguez), 58

Misconduct Summary:
LEO: Barreiro (caution), 38
LA: Edwards (caution), 70
LEO: Romero (caution), 87

LA: GK Novak Mićović, D Calegari (Kelvin Leerdam, 75), D Jalen Neal, D Tony Alfaro, D Raheem Edwards (Julián Aude, 75); M Riqui Puig, M Gastón Brugman © (Uri Rosell, 45), M Daniel Aguirre (Memo Rodríguez, 75); M Tyler Boyd, M Douglas Costa; F Preston Judd (Dejan Joveljić, 64)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Jonathan Bond, GK Jonathan Klinsmann; D Mauricio Cuevas, D Eriq Zavaleta; M Efraín Álvarez, M Jonathan Pérez, M Gino Vivi

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Tyler Boyd, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS: 11 (Four players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 4

LEO: GK Rodolfo Costa; D William Tesillo ©, D Adonis Frias, D Stiven Barreiro (Fidel Ambriz, 74), D Osvaldo Rodriguez (Paul Bellon, 83); M Lucas Romero, M Jose Rodriguez, M Ivan Moreno, M Omar Fernandez (Elias Hernandez, 53), F Brian Rubio (Federico Vinas, 74), F Angel Mena (David Ramirez, 74)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Alfonso Blanco, GK Oscar Garcia, D Luis Cervantes, D Oscar Villa, M Borja Sanchez, F Hector Uribe, F Sebastian Santos

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Brian Rubio, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Brian Rubio, 3); FOULS: 17 (Lucas Romero, 5); OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 3

Referee: Juan Gabriel Calderon Perez
Assistant Referees: William Arrieta, Henri Antonio Pupiro Esquivel
Fourth Official: David Gomez Araya
VAR: Benjamin Whitty
Weather: Clear, 80 degrees
Attendance: 20,776

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

On what he saw on Club Leon’s goal from where he was:
“I mean, it's weak side defending, is what it is. And we talked about it going into this game. Their team that likes to cross their team. Their team likes to get switches of play. Guys on the weak side, and, this particular situation, Rah [Raheem Edwards], specifically, I think, Uri [Rosell] was kind of in that area, he was in that side. But as they switch and the players on the backside of it run through the line, we don't track the run or manage the run. And when he runs through, he ends up unmarked and in on the goal. And just the guys that are on that backside, that weak side, they have to quickly make an assessment of whether that players onside, is going to be onside, and if they do, they have to track the run and take away the most dangerous player. And, if it’s Ra [Raheem Edwards], for example, to leave the guy on the outside, open, and make sure you track that guy who's running in front of your goal. But I felt like, yes, we checked out. Naive defending, which happened on a number of occasions thru the course of the night. Just some naive defending. And it cost us. And that's this kind of game against these kinds of opponents as you can't have let downs. Novak [Mićović] bailed us out on a couple. Made some great saves. But, that one, he couldn’t do anything about. And, we took it.” 

On the overall performance of the group, and still having a chance to advance:
“Yeah, I mean, it's a tournament. So, not everything was riding on this game. It would have been great to get three points, or to put ourselves in the in a pole position. It just means that for our advancement, everything rides on the next game. That's tournament play. When you have groups like this. Overall, I felt like we started off pretty well, but I don't think that's out of the norm for them. And then they organize how they want to mark you, and how they're going to defend you. And it becomes very man on man, if you will. For them, especially through the midfield. Which makes it difficult for teams like us that want to press if we don't solve the problem and create the right overloads in the right places. I felt the times we over complicated the game, when the game needed to be simple, and the ball just needed to move fast, and we could we could play faster than their pressure. I felt at times we were taking too long on the ball or trying to look for something that wasn't there. And that impacted some of our moments in possession down the stretch. I thought we had a good thing going on our right side as Memo [Rodriguez] came in and started to roll out underneath Kelvin [Leerdam], and I felt like that was creating some problems for them. Because to deal with Memo, they were going to have to bring somebody out in the middle, which would then open up the middle, and things came off it. We started to create more good moments, I think, down the stretch partly because, I think, we started to separate them and make them make some tougher decisions in terms of their marking. And we were using each other to get each other unmarked instead of just running around trying to get unmarked, sometimes. So, I think that's the nature of their game tonight, sometimes the game can get a little bit like that, but, they're a good team and they obviously have players who can punish you if you make little mistakes. They did a nice job over the night of playing into their wingbacks who then would drive inside or would combine and work to the inside, and then they were they were getting in between us that way. Which was some of the naïve moments that I felt we had over the course of the night. They would just open us up. When our full backs would step out to defend, they would play off of them and just run by us and combine and, now, next thing you know, they're running at our back line with an extra member. Just again, as we get back going in this, and get going again, we just need to make sure, again, we tighten up some of the details of a good opponent who asks some different questions of us than may be we have seen in the last little bit.” 

On the intensity of the game being almost comparable to postseason, and how that helps or hurts his squad going into Sunday’s game against Vancouver, and an update on Gaston Brugman:
“Yeah, again, I think the nature of the way they defend, and it's very personal. Once they organize, the marking guys are tracking, and they're physical, and they're very good at marking and defending individually. And so, again, as we tried to scoot out of things on the dribble or take a little bit of those extra touches, then the nature of that is you're probably going to get hit a few times through the course of the game. So again, I think that's for us to be smart about when we can combine and play fast and combine around their pressure, and when guys like Riqui [Puig] can take that quick touch, and scoot on the other side, because that's one of the things he and Douglas [Costa], that’s one of the things that they're very good at. It's just finding the right balance in there inside of that. But, yeah, the physical game, they needed to get something out of this game, I think, to advance, probably, and so, they knew that. We wanted to get something out of it, so I think it had a, again, a tournament feel to it. Now we have one more ahead of us. We’ve got to deal with that one appropriately. As far as Gaston [Brugman], he felt a limited range of motion in his knee, so he sat because he felt like he couldn’t get in a full extension. Don’t really know exactly, because it’s early. Going to have to get an MRI tomorrow. We don’t feel that it’s serious, but it’s something. It’s just a matter of what, and we don’t quite know yet.”

On this being his first game back since international duty and how he felt out on the field:_
“I felt good, coming back from injury. My body was feeling right. Had a tiny knock in the game but it’s nothing major and I’ll be good for Sunday.”

On what he thought about the intensity of the match:
“I was expecting a bit more just from the environment standpoint. Going up against Leon, we all knew it was going to be intense, all these Liga MX teams. The intensity was good. I liked it. I like these intense games; I like playing them. Fast paced, high intensity. I love it.”

On what he thinks the team needs to get better at ahead of facing Vancouver:
“I think we really need to establish our possession. Getting into the other opponent’s half and just settling there. Instead of maybe wanting to rush things or take things too slow. I think that was the problem today, first half specially we didn’t maintain enough possession. Leon had a lot of the ball, and we were just running around. That just left us being out of position. So, when we did get the ball, there was not the right options.”

On what he thought of the game’s physicality: 
“It was like a regular game I would think. There were fouls here and there but that’s going to be part of the game, especially against a Liga MX team. There was going to be a lot of physicality in the duels, 50/50, aerial, all of it.”

On what he thought about Novak Mićović’s play:
“Novak [Mićović] did great I thought. He was talking, he made some good saves in the first half to keep us in. His distribution was good. I thought he had an amazing night.”

On tonight's game:"I thought the game was pretty intense, competitive I would say, back and forth. I think we both had our chances but at the end of the day they capitalized on one of their chances and we missed out a little bit on ours but it is definitely something we can build on moving forward to the next game."On playing next to Jalen Neal:"I think we are getting on the same page communication wise. I think that is my biggest thing coming in trying to share my experience with him and I know as two center backs that haven't really played with each other I think communicating between the back line is definitely something that is going to help us out." On how are they going to prepare for the game against Vancouver Whitecaps:"I think we just have to reflect on our performance and just go from there. Fix the little details, see what we can do better but I think we should not a problem coming out with good energy and try to come out on top."

On tonight's game: "I thought it was an important game because we are not used to playing man on man which was the way they came out to play. It was something that we don't see here in the league but they played a good game, but I thought we could have scored some goals as well. It was an open game and they deserved to win because they got the goal but there is a lot to learn from this game and we are going to take as a learning opportunity for the game on Sunday so we can get the three points which is important." On whether they see the game against Vancouver Whitecaps as a revenge game after losing to them in the last league game:"I think any game after a loss is a revenge game because you go out to get a win, I like to win and get points. They played well against us at their stadium and got the win but here in our stadium we have to do the same. We have to play well, play our game and get the three points."