[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 Friendup 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.
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).