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Nightmare first half hour dooms Galaxy
by Paul Kennedy, March 19th, 2014 12:17AM

TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mexico, mls


[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] If MLS is to one day attain the level of or overtake Liga MX, as is its goal, it can begin, among other things, by getting a few defenders who can defend. Some very amateurish defending in the first half hour of the return leg was the difference as Tijuana beat the LA Galaxy, 4-2, to move into the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League.

Quarterfinals, Second Leg:
Wednesday, March 19
Toluca (MEX) vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Kickoff: 8 pm ET, Fox Sports 2 & UDN
Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Sporting KC
Kickoff: 10 pm ET, Fox Sports 2 & Galavision
Thursday, March 20
Arabe Unido (PAN) vs. Alajuelense (CRC)
Kickoff: 10 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus & UDN

The Galaxy-Xolos series for bragging rights in Southern California was decided in the first half hour as Tijuana was gifted three goals, two by Ecuadoran Jaime Ayovi and the third by Argentine Dario Benedetto.

Four Galaxy players had a chance to clear the ball but couldn't on the first goal, Ayovi was all alone to score into an empty net when he eluded Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo at the top of the penalty area for the second, and Leonardo, who was also guilty on the Tijuana's killer fourth goal by sub Richard Ruiz in the 81st minute, gave the ball away to Benedetto for an easy third. The deficit for the Galaxy could have been a lot worse as Xolos also hit the woodwork twice in the first half.

Bruce Arena made two changes at the half, bringing on Todd Dunivant for the first time this season at left back and Rob Friend up front for Samuel, and the Galaxy quickly got back in the game when Omar Gonzalez headed on Landon Donovan's free kick to Robbie Keane, who slotted the ball home in the 47th minute.

Donovan set up Keane again for the second Galaxy goal with five minutes to play, setting the stage for a harried ending and the possibility -- as hard as it was to imagine after the first 30 minutes -- that the Galaxy might win the series. The Galaxy's aerial strength proved to be its best bet, and it created several dangerous chances but could not convert a third goal that would have put it through to the semifinals on away goals.

Reaction: Robbie Keane

Instead, Tijuana goes through, meaning that its American contingent that includes starters Greg Garza and Joe Corona and Herculez Gomez off the bench will miss the USA-Mexico friendly on April 2.

March 18 in Tijuana
Tijuana 4 LA Galaxy 2. Goals: Ayovi 1, 9, Benedetto 26, Ruiz 81; Keane 47, 85.
Tijuana  -- Saucedo; Nunez, Castro, Gandolfi, Garza; H.Pellerano, Guemez, C.Pellerano, Corona (Ruiz 67); Ayovi (Martinez 78), Benedetto (Gomez 88).
LA Galaxy -- Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Riley (Dunivant 46); Zardes (Ishizaki 69), Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Samuel (Friend 46).

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: March 19, 2014 at 9 a.m.
    MLS clubs will never become the best in the CONCACAF region because of the salary cap. Spreading the talents over 19 teams -- and soon to be 24 teams -- will not help in creating super clubs that can take on other super clubs in the region.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: March 19, 2014 at 11:51 a.m.
    MLS can always change the DP rules, so I don't think high levels of spending is going to result in those teams always winning (see ManCity). Galaxy's problem here was defending, not the lack of star players, that prevented them from getting a result.

  1. feliks fuksman
    commented on: March 19, 2014 at 1:33 p.m.
    MLS, general managers, etc., (who ever is making the decisions) need make better (scouting??) decisions; the joke around the world is that MLS is the place for the players who are "over the hill", or are problems...or at best very little left... I didn't see this particular match, but the players who scored the goals were from, Argentina and Ecuador; they made the difference...could they, should they be playing in MLS? I've been involved in soccer for over 50 years in USA, especially in NY area, and for except for few years during the original Cosmos time, the results and the type of teams performance have been very, very disappointing to say the least; and money was spent; the decisions thus far have not worked. We definitely know we have the fans in NY area nevertheless there must a good product to attract them.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: March 19, 2014 at 1:37 p.m.
    The point I was making is this: if there was no salary cap, LA Galaxy would have gotten better defenders than what they have right now. They don't have to have DPs in defense. just good enough to compete with the Mexicans and the Central Americans. Saying that, I am not proponent of removing the salary cap yet, though. CCL is a good experience but MLS should not count on winning it any time soon.

  1. Zoe Willet
    commented on: March 19, 2014 at 2:20 p.m.
    Feliks- try watching a few Portland Timbers games. They are fantastic because they are one for all and all for one, not a star system. Yes, Donovan Ricketts and Darlington Nagbe... and I could name a few more, are top notch, but is the team's manner of performing cohesively which makes them admirable (imho, of course). And of course the 12th person (the fans).

  1. Victor de Meireles
    commented on: March 19, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.
    Pathetic first 25 minutes. This is always the story of American teams in Mexico: give up a bunch of goals and need a Herculean effort to get back in the game. It rarely works. MLS teams need to dominate home games. Also, it would be nice if MLS teams got the second leg at home. It seems as if they always need an away result.

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