CARSON, CA – LA Galaxy head to Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico tonight, to finish the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal round against Santos Laguna.
LA and Santos Laguna played to a 0-0 draw at StubHub Center on February 24th, a match that saw the integration of new faces into the Galaxy side, including defenders Jelle Van Damme and Ashley Cole, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, and midfielder Nigel De Jong.
While the Galaxy had the intervening week off, Santos Laguna returned to league play, facing fellow Liga MX side Puebla last Saturday. The match ended in a 1-1 tie, with Puebla’s Matias Alustiza scoring on a penalty kick in the 13th. Santos Laguna struggled to even things up until the 26th minute, when Francisco Torres was sent off with a straight red in the 26th for fouling Javier Orozco. After that, Santos Laguna found it easier to impose their will on the game, dominating possession for the rest of the half. A fabulous performance by Cristian Campestrini, Puebla’s keeper, kept Santos from scoring before halftime.
In the second half, Santos shelled Puebla’s goal, launching 25 shots and putting 11 on frame. However, it took substitute Ulises Davila in the 62nd minute to find the back of the net and tie the score 1-1. Beyond that point, Santos’ luck seemed to run out. Puebla bunkered down and held off repeated attacks, holding on to the draw. Saturday’s match was the fourth consecutive league match without a win for Santos.
Two of Santos’s starting strikers are not expected to be available for the match against the Galaxy. Andres Renteria will be sitting out due to yellow card accumulation, and Djaniny is nursing an injury. For a team that is already having trouble finishing, the loss of these two players will definitely be felt by the home team.
Going into tomorrow’s match, the LA Galaxy are well positioned to advance into the semi-finals and the Victory Conditions are generally easy to define:
- Any LA Galaxy win – Galaxy Advance
- Any tie other than 0-0 – the ‘Away Goals’ rule is in play. Galaxy advance as Santos Laguna scored no away goals during their trip to StubHub Center.
- Any Santos Laguna Win – Santos Laguna Advance. LA Galaxy go home.
- 0-0 draw – This is the one situation where the waters become muddy: the 0-0 draw. In that case, the game goes into extra time – two 15-minute halves – played until completion. The ‘Away Goals’ rule is no longer in effect. The score at the end of extra time will determine the winner. If, at the end of extra time, the score remains tied, the game goes to Penalty Kicks.
While LA has never won in Mexico during a CONCACAF competition, Team Captain Robbie Keane is optimistic. “We’re lucky we have players who have played in big games and in big tournaments. We have that experience and we thrive being in hostile atmosphere. Mexico will be a hostile place, but we’re ready for the challenge.”
AJ DeLaGarza put a positive spin on things as well. “We have the edge. Any tie where we score goals, we win. Away goals are huge so to keep them at zero is big. It’s always tough in Mexico, but we just have to be tough defensively and be solid.”
Kickoff for Santos Laguna v LA Galaxy will be at 7pm PST and broadcast on Fox Sports 2.