[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory over Tijuana thanks to new Brazilian Samuel's early goal kept MLS clubs unbeaten in their home legs against a trio of Mexico clubs, but there's no guarantee that one or all three teams will go through to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. For its part, the Galaxy struggled to hold off Xolos, who will host the Galaxy on artificial turf across the border at the Estadio Caliente Tuesday.
Samuel, one of four Brazilians starting for the Galaxy, didn't miss on the easiest of chances in the 11th minute after the ball fell to him in front of the Tijuana after Robbie Keane mis-trapped a ball in the area.
The Galaxy had goalie Jaime Penedo to thank for preserving the win. The Panamanian made several soaring saves, most notably on Cristian Pellerano's dipping shot in the 56th minute, and then six minutes later cleaned up his own mess, clearing a ball off the line with a desperate lunge after his failing punch deflected off Omar Gonzalez. Later Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvascleared Javier Gandolfi's header off the line at the far post.
Nonetheless, the Galaxy did a better job of closing out the game than it did last year in the semifinals against Monterrey when it took a 1-0 lead into the final minutes at StubHub Center and lost, 2-1.
With U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann in attendance, Tijuana started a pair of Americans, Joe Coronaand Greg Garza, and Herculez Gomez came off the bench. Corona and Garza both had very good games, though Gomez missed a close-range header after he came on the 80th minute.
The irony of the Galaxy-Tijuana series is that a half a dozen U.S. players on both teams combined hold hopes of traveling to Brazil for the World Cup, only the players on the losing team will get to a chance to play in the USA's test before Klinsmann must pick his squad. The winning team will move on to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League and the first leg is scheduled for the same week as USA-Mexico in Glendale, Ariz.
March 12 in Carson, Calif.
LA Galaxy 1 Tijuana 0.Goal: Samuel 11.
LA Galaxy --Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Riley; Zardes, Sarvas, Juninho (Husidic 85), Donovan; Keane, Samuel (Ishizaki 69).
Tijuana --Saucedo, Gandolfi, Nunez, Garza, Castro, Guemez, Corona (Ruiz 71), C. Pellerano, Ayovi (Gomez 80), Pellerano, Martinez (Benedetto 60).