CCL: Galaxy aims to carry game to Santos

The LA Galaxy has advanced to the final eight of Concacaf Champions League for the fourth time in the last five years, but it enters its series against Santos still seeking its first knockout series victory over a Mexican team. It should debut five new starters in Wednesday's first leg at the StubHub Center.

The big-name signings are Jelle Van Damme, Ashley Cole and Nigel de Jong, but the Galaxy also acquired Dan Kennedy to take over in goal and young Ghanaian Ema Boateng, who finished high school in Santa Barbara and attended UC Santa Barbara for one season before moving to Sweden.

Wednesday's game will also be the CCL debuts for Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos, who signed with the Galaxy last summer.

The Galaxy fell to Monterrey in the 2013 semifinals and Tijuana in the 2014 quarterfinals. Both times it opened at home, losing to Monterrey, 2-1, in a game it led until the 82nd minute, and beating Tijuana, 1-0.

Coach Bruce Arena likes the Galaxy's chances against Santos.

“I think both teams are pretty evenly matched,” Arena said. “Obviously, they have a little advantage, being seven games into their season, but we're pretty confident with the group we're going to put on the field."

Arena said the Galaxy's goal is to carry the game to Santos at home.

"We certainly want to go out there," he said, "and feel comfortable and have the momentum in the game and try to take the game to them.”

LA Galaxy Probable XI:
Kennedy; Rogers, Leonardo, Van Damme, Cole; dos Santos, De Jong, Gerrard, Boateng; Zardes, Keane.

SANTOS. Santos lost its opening game in Liga MX's Torneo Clausura, won its next three games but is winless since then to fall into a three-way tie for seventh place.

The young Santos attack is led by Cape Verde Islands product Djaniny and also features Chilean Bryan Rabello and Colombian Andres Renteria.

Wednesday's game will be a homecoming for Santos left back Jorge Villafana. He began his MLS career at Chivas USA, which played at StubHub Center, before joining the Portland Timbers in 2014. He started the first six games for Santos since being transferred after Portland won MLS Cup 2015.
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