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Galaxy draws sternest SuperLiga test
by Ridge Mahoney, July 24th, 2007 7AM
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TAGS:  mls


[TV PREVIEW] The question of how far, if at all, David Beckham can drag the Galaxy out of its league doldrums will have to wait. First up is the SuperLiga, and if President Alexi Lalas, Coach Frank Yallop, et al, landed the supernova of Designated Players, they've also been saddled with the largest obstacle of the four Mexican entrants. In the past eight months, Pachuca -- the Galaxy's foe at Home Depot Center Tuesday (11 pm ET, TeleFutura) - has knocked off domestic and South American opposition to win the Copa Sudamericana, conquer all comers in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and race off with the Mexican Clausura championship.

"We're very aware of how good they are," says Galaxy coach Frank Yallop. "Maybe we didn't get the luck of the draw opening with them, but like they say, you have to play them all sooner or later."

FC Dallas and Guadalajara, which play each other Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, TeleFutura) at Pizza Hut Park, round out Group A. The Group B schedule opens Wednesday with D.C. United hosting Morelia and Houston welcoming Club America.

The Copa Sudamericana triumph, which concluded last December with a 3-2 win over Chilean legend Colo Colo, 3-2, on aggregate, included eliminations of Atletico Paranaense (Brazil), Lanus (Argentina) and Deportes Tolima (Colombia).

Pachuca outlasted Houston, 5-4, on aggregate in a pulsating semifinal series before edging Guadalajara, on penalties, 7-6, in second leg of the CONCACAF final (2-2 on aggregate), and last May, after finishing atop the Mexican League standings with a 12-2-3 record, prevailed in the playoffs.

"They play at an incredible pace but are very skillful, too," said Houston coach Dominic Kinnear after their classic semifinal meeting. "They certainly were fitter than we were and playing them at altitude, I think, proved to be the difference."

Pachuca, led by former Mexican national team coach Enrique Meza, has been in preseason training for about two weeks and this time around the Galaxy and their MLS counterparts, presumably, will be fitter and sharper. Also irrelevant at this stage of the tournament is altitude, with all games played in the U.S.

Beckham's tender left ankle prevented him from training Monday and he'll sit out this one, with a monster showdown against Guadalajara Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum looming. Right back Chris Albright is rapidly rehabbing a torn right hamstring and is targeting a return perhaps in September.

Pachuca lost fearsome striker Luis Angel Landin to Morelia in the offseason but Christian Gimenez and Andres Chitiva are slick, bold playmakers who need constant tracking and monitoring.

Gimenez scored nine goals during the Clausura; striker Juan Carlos Cacho led the team with 11. Colombian keeper Miguel Calero is prone to the occasional brazen error yet has incredibly sharp reflexes.

The top two teams in each group advance to the single-leg semifinals, which are scheduled for Aug. 14-15.

Group A
Chivas de Guadalajara
L.A. Galaxy
FC Dallas
CF Pachuca

Group B
Club América
D.C. United
Houston Dynamo
Monarcas Morelia

On TeleFutura
(all times ET)

SuperLiga DALLAS-GUADALAJARA (live) 9 pm.
SuperLiga LOS ANGELES-PACHUCA (live) 11 pm.

SuperLiga D.C. UNITED-MORELIA (live) 8 pm.
SuperLiga HOUSTON-CLUB AMERICA (live) 10 pm.

SuperLiga DALLAS-PACHUCA (live) 8 pm.
SuperLiga LOS ANGELES-GUADALAJARA (live) 10 pm.

SuperLiga D.C. UNITED-CLUB AMERICA (live) 8 pm.
SuperLiga HOUSTON-MORELIA (live) 10 pm.

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