BRAVE THE CONDITIONS AND KEEP FOCUS
Bruce Arena trusted his youngest players to earn the Galaxy a ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League, and with qualification assured, Arena will turn to them once again in El Salvador.
At Estadio Jorge "Calero" Suárez, the Galaxy youngsters will face conditions that promise to be much different than the relative splendor of Puerto Rico. Whether it is the long travel, a wide field, a hostile crowd or potentially questionable refereeing decisions, the Galaxy will receive a trial by fire in El Salvador.
Amid all the potential distractions, the Galaxy’s youngsters must keep their focus and concentrate on the game plan that Bruce Arena lays out for them. If the Galaxy can keep their focus, they should be able to dispatch Metapan and solidify their seeding for the CCL quarterfinals.
GARCIA AND WALKER TANDEM LOOK TO CONTROL OFFENSE
Wednesday’s match is likely to be a battle on the field and the task of finding order amid the chaos will fall to LA’s central midfield duo of Rafael Garcia and Kenney Walker.
In Champions League play and Reserve League action, the pair have formed an effective partnership as Walker’s defensive bite as proved to be the perfect complement for Garcia’s two-way ability. During their last two appearances against the Puerto Rico Islanders, the rookie duo were instrumental in shutting down the Islanders midfield as LA controlled much of the possession.
Against a Metapán side likely to use star midfielder Eliseo Quintanilla to link up with forward Nicolas Munoz, Garcia and Walker will need to cut down on passing lanes and control possession immediately as LA look to create scoring chances.
NOONAN’S LEADERSHIP KEY
When the LA Galaxy take the field on Thursday, the squad may be made up predominantly of young players and rookies, but one expected to hold the squad together on the field is veteran forward Pat Noonan.
The 32-year-old Noonan has seen scant time with the first team this season, but he has been instrumental in LA’s success in both the CONCACAF Champions League and MLS Reserve League. Whether it is on the flanks or up top, Noonan has provided the Galaxy with a two-way presence with effectiveness on both sides of the ball.
With Thursday’s match serving as many of LA’s youngsters’ first taste of the unforgiving environment in CONCACAF, Noonan’s leadership –as well as work in the attack—could prove crucial to LA’s hopes of three points.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com