Galaxy Keep Rolling in CCL

Arena’s confidence in reserves paid off Wednesday night
by Jamie Pham   |   Friday, September 20, 2013

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

CARSON, Calif. – The Los Angeles Galaxy defeated El Salvador's Isidro Metapan 1-0 in their 2nd game of Champions League play Wednesday night at the StubHub Center. 

The Galaxy are currently in the middle of a very condensed schedule containing of Champions League play and trying to make the MLS playoffs so Arena turned to his reserves opting to leave most of his starters out of this game. Arena started the game with a 4-3-3 formation with Jack McBean, Jose Villarreal and Chandler Hoffman up top but reverted back to his traditional 4-2-2.

It didn’t take long for Metapan to attack when a cross went into the dangerous area in front of the box but was cleared by Tommy Meyer in the 2nd minute. 

The Galaxy answered back a few minutes later when Jose Villarreal fed Laurent Courtois towards the left of the box who then blasted the ball passed goalkeeper, Henry Hernandez.

LA and Metapan challenged both goalkeepers a number of times but could not convert on any of their chances.

Some of the Galaxy’s reserves showed a bit of rust, as they have not played in a while. There were a few giveaways that resulted on fast breaks but luckily, Metapan could not capitalize on LA’s passing mistakes.

Hector Ramos stole the ball away from LA’s midfield in the 27th minute and looked like he would have a chance on goal against Brian Rowe but Opare made a huge stop blocking Ramos’s shot at the top of the box.

This prompted Arena to bring in Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas in the 2nd half to solidify the midfield and also Gyasi Zardes, for some fresh legs and speed up top.

“I'll tell you, it wasn't pretty,” Mastroeni said. “It was a lot of bad giveaways, a lot of bad passes. We had opportunities to really put the game away, and if it wasn't a good save, it was a missed shot. There were a lot of things we could have done differently.”

The Galaxy lost to the Rapids 2 weeks ago while their 4 starters were away so this was another chance for the reserves to step in while the starters are resting. A lot of them will be called upon in the coming weeks especially with AJ DeLaGarza out with an elbow injury and Landon Donovan out with a sprained ankle. 

“They did all right, they worked hard, you could see their inexperience at times,” Arena said after the game. “We need to pass better, and that would be a criticism of our team tonight, but a positive is the 3 points and a clean sheet.

Although they won 1-0, they could have easily scored at least 2 more goals if it weren’t for Henriquez’s excellent goalkeeping. He definitely kept Metapan in the game allowing only 1 goal. Goalkeeper Brian Rowe was extraordinary for the Galaxy as he kept a clean sheet. Centerbacks Opare and Tommy Meyer also played very good games, snuffing out the counter attacks and the El Salvadorian strikers, Hector Ramos and Nicolas Munoz.

Chandler Hoffman, in his 1st start and game of the year (other than reserve league play), was excellent on the ball and had a couple good shots on goal including a header in 32nd minute but Hernandez barely got his finger tips on it.

“He did a good job and worked hard,” said Arena. “We played him out of position the majority of the game but he did well. He didn’t have many opportunities this year and he took advantage of it and gave us a good effort.”

With this win, LA is 2-0 in its group stage and is currently unbeaten in its last 8 of 10 games in CCL play with the 2 losses going to Mexico’s Monterrey in the 2012-2013 semifinals.

The Galaxy will face Cartigines in Costa Rica next Wednesday, Sept. 25, and only 1 more point in the next 2 CCL games to make it through to the next round. It will be interesting to see if Arena will use this lineup again and what changes he will be making to the 1st team as it looks like Opare will be taking over the substitute spot from Tommy Meyer.

NEXT UP: September 21 – Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 10:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

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.