LA Galaxy Opens CCL Play with a Win

Donovan hooks with Keane again for 2-0 victory
by Jamie Pham   |   Thursday, August 22, 2013

Galaxy of Angels – column on Los Angeles Galaxy (LA Galaxy) & the LA soccer scene.

CARSON, Calif. – The Los Angeles Galaxy returned to CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday night against CS Cartagines, defeating the Costa Rican team, 2-0.

This is the 3rd straight year the Galaxy have qualified for the Champions League. The eventual champions the past 2 years, Monterrey from Mexico, have eliminated LA 2 years in a row.

Notable changes to the starting XI include Kofi Opare, Pablo Mastroeni, Michael Stephens and Robbie Rogers.

Both teams started out slow with a majority of the possessions in the midfield. LA had most of the possessions in the 1st half but it did not amount to much.

Passes to Robbie Keane ended up being given away or intercepted by Cartagines, whose 1st shot on goal didn’t come until the 33rd minute as Randall Brenes took a strike that Pinedo easily gobbled up.

The Galaxy tried to put the pressure on Cartagines but was shut down whenever they tried to make an attack. They looked sluggish at times but this is probably because many of the players played a full 90 minutes just 3 nights before against Real Salt Lake and they have another game in Vancouver this Saturday.

LA started the 2nd half strong with tons of scoring opportunities, but could not finish in the box. Costa Rican goalkeeper Wardy Alfaro blocked a few close calls and deflected a few more.

Landon Donovan came in the game in the 61st minute for Jose Villarreal to provide some offensive power and this was the difference in the game.

He made an immediate impact as he served the ball over the top to Keane, who then slid the ball right by Alfaro breaking the deadlock. Keane broke through again in stoppage time at the end of the game with another assist by Donovan.

Donovan said he's really enjoyed clicking with Keane.

“He’s a good player,” Donovan said. “He makes it easy for me so I know if I put the ball in the right spot more often than not he’s going to score and I know if I make the right runs more often than not he’s going to get me the ball so it makes it real easy.”

Donovan gave an interview earlier in the week about receiving “intriguing offers” from several countries and he made a case for him again tonight. In my opinion, I don’t see him leaving MLS in a World Cup year, but this is the kind of things he has to say to gain leverage with the LA Galaxy as they negotiate his contract.

CONCACAF referee Hector Rodriguez took a lot of well-deserved flack from the crowd throughout the game.

There were a lot of fouls that weren’t called and a few cards that weren’t shown in favor of the Galaxy. Kofi Opare got booked a yellow card in the 38th minute as he slid in with a weak challenge on Danny Fonseca. A clear handball was not called in the 59th minute and then the ball was cleared off the line minutes later by a header from Gonzalez.

Rogers had to leave the game in the 44th minute due to a hamstring injury. It’s been a tough couple week for Rogers as this was his 1st appearance since the International Champions Cup earlier in August and he did not play the last 2 games.

Centerback Opare made his debut for the Galaxy and played a very good game against the Costa Rican side. LA manager Bruce Arena said his start with as good as for any youngster.

“[Opare] had a very good game, not an easy game for a young player,” Arena said. “This is his debut and he did an excellent job. He’s looked good the last couple of months in training and in reserve games and he’s a player that we feel has a lot of potential and I thought he had an outstanding game.”

After Tuesday night’s game, Keane has scored 5 goals in 2 games (3 against Real Salt Lake and 2 against Cartagines).

The Galaxy’s next Champions League match will be on Sept. 18 at home against El Salvador’s A.D. Isidro Metapán.

NEXT UP: August 24 – Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, BC Place, Vancouver, Canada. 9 p.m. EST, TWCSN and MLS Live.

Jamie PHAM

Pasadena City College
Club Domestic:
LA Galaxy
Club Foreign:
Former tour manager turned sports blogger, Jamie spends loads of time reviewing the Los Angeles sports scene and is a big MLS and USMNT supporter.