LA Galaxy vs Monterrey
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The Home Depot Center
Kick-off: 7:00 p.m
One of the most important games in the history of the Home Depot Center will take place this Wednesday night when the LA Galaxy hosts back-to-back CCL champions Monterrey in the first leg of the tournament’s semifinals. In this stage of the competition for the first time, the Galaxy will be looking for a positive result to take to Monterrey next week, where one place in the final will be on the line.
Both the Galaxy and Monterrey were in action this past Saturday in their respective leagues. The Galaxy traveled to Canada to face Toronto FC. Mike Magee gave the Galaxy an early lead, scoring his league-leading fifth goal of the campaign, but an error in the backline involving Leonardo and Carlo Cudicini allowed TFC to level the game at one. Osorio gave Toronto the 2-1 lead in the 78th, and it looked like LA was on the way to suffering their first defeat of the season. One of the major stories to come out of this game was the return of Landon Donovan, who entered the game in the second half and was given the captain’s armband by Todd Dunivant, but the buzz about his return might have been beaten by Jose Villarreal, who scored a spectacular scissor kick to tie the game at 2 in stoppage time. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the kid from Inglewood pull off heroics to rescue the Galaxy. With Montreal’s loss on Saturday, the Galaxy is the only undefeated team left in MLS.
One of the advantages Mexican teams have over MLS teams when it comes to CCL play is the fact that Liga MX has been underway for a while by the time the CCL knockout stages begin. While MLS just finished its fifth week of the campaign, the Mexican league has gone through twelve of them, five away from the start of their playoffs.
This past Saturday Monterrey cruised over Pumas UNAM for a 3-0 victory at home. With 17 points in 12 games, Monterrey currently stands in seventh place on the table, tied with three other teams but with a better goal differential.
It’s a battle of Champions. The Galaxy is the back-to-back MLS Champions, and Monterrey is the back-to-back winner of the CONCACAF Champions League, having gone twice consecutively to represent the region at the Club World Cup. Despite not having their best season domestically, Monterrey is a dangerous team that will capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. The Galaxy got to semifinals by eliminating Costa Rican team Herediano with a 4-1 aggregate result, while Monterrey took out the lowest seed Xelaju with an aggregate of 4-2.
While the Galaxy can now count on Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane is still out injured. Not many updates have been given since his injury in World Cup Qualifiers, so the severity of his injury is not known. On the other hand, Monterrey will be without starting goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, who was injured in training a couple of weeks ago. Even without starting goalkeeper Monterrey presents several key players who can cause a lot of trouble to the Galaxy defense, including Aldo De Nigris, Walter Ayovi, Jesus Zavala, Neri Cardozo, Cesar Delgado, and Humberto Suazo, among others. On the defensive side Monterrey is well equipped as well, having players such as Severo Meza, Leobardo Lopez, Darvin Chavez, and Hiram Mier.
With the second and decisive leg being held in Mexico it is important that the Galaxy leaves the Home Depot Center with a comfortable result. Just as important is that the MLS team does not give up any away goals, as that can be what decides who advances to the final.
THIS IS LA!