HEREDIA, COSTA RICA – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano provides his Three Points to the LA Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals First Leg against C.S. Herediano.
ERASE LAST SEASON’S DISAPPOINTMENT WITH A RESULT
The LA Galaxy were bounced from the CONCACAF Champions League at the quarterfinal stage last year and Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena will be looking to prevent a repeat of last year’s disappointment against Herediano.
But if the Galaxy are going to return to The Home Depot Center with a positive result, they’ll need to put the brakes on Herediano leading goal scorer Yendrick Ruiz, who currently leads the Costa Rican Primera Division with six goals. The physical presence of Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez will be key as LA look to cut off service to the talented forward.
Ruiz is not the only threat as LA must sustain an expected heavy Herediano barrage early as they look to jump over the visitors from the opening whistle. If LA can endure, expect the Galaxy to attempt to hit the Costa Ricans on the counter in search of a vital away goal.
WEATHER THE ELEMENTS
Wild conditions are common place when traveling in the CONCACAF Champions League and on Thursday, the Galaxy must overcome yet another challenging environment against Herediano.
At the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, the Galaxy must overcome the close quarters which place the expected sellout crowd of 15,000 practically on top of the field. Not only will LA be facing a hostile crowd, but they will play on a FieldTurf surface, which according Marcelo Sarvas, who played on the field during his time with Alajuelense, has a quality between “Portland and Seattle.”
The unpredictable nature of CCL road trips are nothing new to most members of the Galaxy squad. LA’s first team gained plenty of experience traveling away over the past two years while the reserve squad shouldered the responsibility of helping LA qualify for the quarterfinals of the current edition of the Champions League with results in Puerto Rico and Metapán last year.
STEPHENS TO TAKE OVER FOR CLARK?
Bruce Arena is expected to opt for a relatively full strength side against the Costa Ricans, but one place that he’ll need to make a switch is on the left side of midfield with Colin Clark, who started Sunday’s season opener against Chicago and is cup-tied in the competition, having played for the Houston Dynamo in the Group Stage.
Michael Stephens appears to be the most likely option as the fourth-year midfielder has substantial experience on the flanks as well as familiarity with CCL road-trips. During LA’s group stage finale against Isidro Metapán, Stephens frequently sparked attacks forward and ultimately scored the game-winning goal that allowed LA to earn the No. 4 seed.
Arena is not limited to Stephens; however, as new signing Chandler Hoffman and rookie Greg Cochrane can each play out wide. Whoever starts on the left will have their hands full as energetic midfielder Jose Sanchez and forward Ismael Gomez man the right side of Herediano’s attack.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com