CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Servando Carrasco isn’t just spouting hyperboles when he said he is excited for Tuesday’s Leagues Cup match against Club Tijuana at Dignity Health Sports Park (8 p.m., ESPN).
Carrasco, after all, was born in Coronado but spent part of his childhood in the Mexican city. He vividly remembers driving by Club Tijuana’s home field, Estadio Caliente, and still marvels at its expansion over the years. He said he even scrimmaged against the Xolos when he was in high school there.
“To talk about this game and talk about this hometown kind of brings me back,” he said about the game between Liga MX and Major League Soccer powers. “I’m pretty excited for the game.
“Tijuana for me, is always going to be home.”
Club Tijuana is coming off a 3-1 victory over Liga MX rival Puebla on July 19 while the Galaxy defeated crosstown rival Los Angeles FC 3-1 last Friday. Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said his team must “be ready to play” despite holding out the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jonathan dos Santos. Tuesday’s match will provide a number of players valuable minutes and might even give him a glimpse into the squad’s future.
The Galaxy’s Cup roster, for example, does not include defenders Dan Steres and Rolf Feltscher. Nor does it feature Sebastian Lletget, Romain Alessandrini, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, and Juninho – all of whom are injured. But it does have call-ups from Galaxy II, such as defender Nick DePuy, forward Don Tchilao and midfielder Kai Koreniuk.
“This game is very important for me to make some future decisions about the players,” he said. “They know what I will ask of them tomorrow, but it’s a big opportunity for them. Big, very big.
“No bigger moment than when you’re playing on the second team to come to the first team and play this kind of game.”
Carrasco said it will provide MLS officials and followers a good indication of where the league stands against their Mexican counterparts.
“I think it’s a good measuring stick,” he said. “They’re a good club, a club that’s done very well in kind of a short history. It’s a good chance to see where we’re at, where the league is at.
“It’s kind of a chance to show what we have and how the league has grown.”
Carrasco said he wasn’t concerned if the Galaxy and other MLS teams in the tournament (Houston, Chicago, and Real Salt Lake) don’t fare well in the single-elimination competition.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “In many ways maybe it’s a little more fair right now because we’re both kind of fit. When you talk about the (CONCACAF) Champions League and most of these teams in MLS are not game-fit, if anything it’s more of a level playing field.
“We’re excited. I just can’t really wait.”
Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese, who spent a good deal of time involved in the game in Mexico before joining the Galaxy last December, is eagerly awaiting the matchup between leagues as well.
“I think it’s very important,” he said. “It’s a showcase. There’s always some rivalry against Mexico. I think for us it is also important because we want to show MLS is up to competing.
“Apart from competing or a single result, we have the players capable of being in these games.”
Barros Schelotto asked what he hoped to get out of the matchup, said he is looking for a victory despite missing two of his best players and knowing a critical MLS match against Portland lies ahead on Saturday.
“It’s always important to win. Always important to give a good impression,” he said. “We were talking about what I want from them on the field, on the pitch. It’s important for us to beat Tijuana.
“Everything we do on the field will be very important for me.”