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CCL preview: LA out to banish bad memories vs. Islanders

LA Galaxy (1-0-0) vs. Puerto Rico Islanders (0-1-0)
Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
CONCACAF Champions League Group 5
August 29, 2012
7 pm PT/10 pm ET, Fox Soccer

The picture in Group 5

After Wednesday’s game between the Galaxy and Puerto Rico, Group 5 of the Champions League group stage will officially be at its midway point with all teams having played two of their four matches. LA currently lead the group with three points and a +3 goal differential while Metapan also have three points but a -1 goal difference. The Islanders are currently in last place with no points after falling 3-1 to Metapan in their opener on August 1 in El Salvador.

The Galaxy will return to Champions League play in Puerto Rico against the Islanders on September 19 before rounding out the Group Stage at Metapan in El Salvador in October 25.

Five star performance

The LA Galaxy got their CONCACAF Champions League campaign off to a flying start on Thursday night, beating Isidro Metapan of El Salvador 5-2 at The Home Depot Center. The five goals scored and three goal margin of victory were each Galaxy records in the Champions League. That was also just the second time this year that the Galaxy had scored five times in a single game, having also done so in a 5-3 at Portland on July 14. Those two games are also the only two games in all competitions that both David Beckham and Robbie Keane scored in the same game.

Prior to that game, the Galaxy had never scored more than two goals in a Champions League game, a feat that they achieved four times in the 2011/12 Champions League, including in all three of their Group Stage wins at home, and once in the second leg of their Preliminary Round series against Puerto Rico in August 2010. The Galaxy scored four goals once in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, beating Santos Laguna 4-1 in a North Zone Playoff in July 1997. That was also LA’s biggest margin of victory in that competition.

The Galaxy were the fourth different team to score five goals in the Group Stage of the 2012/13 Champions League, joining Monterrey, who beat Chorrillo 5-0 on July 31 in the first game of the competition, Toronto FC, who beat Aguila 5-1 the following day, and Santos Laguna, who beat Aguila 5-0 on August 21. Nine of the first 16 CCL games this yer have seen a team score three goals or more.

A first for Juninho

Juninho put his name in the Galaxy record books on Thursday, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes of the 5-2 win over Metapan. With those goals, Juninho became the first Galaxy player in history to score more than one goal in a Champions League game. Eduardo Hurtado scored twice for LA in the Final of the 1997 CONCACAF Champions Cup and Ezra Hendrickson scored twice in the Final of the 2000 Champions Cup, but Juninho was the first Galaxy player to do so in a Champions League game.

Additionally, he is now the club’s all-time leading scorer in the competition with four goals, two more than Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Mike Magee, each of who have two Champions League goals for LA. In addition to Juninho’s four goals, the club has also benefitted from four own goals in their 11 Champions League games, getting two against Puerto Rico in 2010, one against Toronto FC in the quarterfinals of the 2011/12 Champions League and one on Thursday by Metapan.

Juninho, who had never scored more than two goals in a single month during his Galaxy career, now has five goals in five games in all competitions this month.

Keane sees red

Captaining the Galaxy in a CCL game for the first time ever, Robbie Keane put his team in front for good with a 22nd minute header, but he was sent off by referee Alfredo Penaloza with 20 minutes remaining in the game.

Keane, who had never been sent off in his Galaxy career before Thursday, joins Juninho as the only two Galaxy players ever to be sent off in the Champions League. The Brazilian was shown two yellow cards in LA’s 2-0 home win over Alajuelense in the Group Stage of the 2011/12 CCL.

A milestone goal for Beckham

David Beckham scored the eventual game-winning goal in first half stoppage time of Thursday’s 5-2 win over Metapan. That goal, which came directly from a corner kick, was Beckham’s seventh of the season and the first time that he has ever scored in the CONCACAF Champions League. Prior to Thursday night, Beckham, who has 17 regular season goals in his Galaxy career, including six this season, setting a new MLS-high for the midfielder, had only ever scored in the regular season and in SuperLiga, tallying the first goal of his Galaxy career with a freekick in the semifinals of that now defunct tournament against D.C. United in August 2007.

His goal on Thursday was the second time that he had scored directly from a corner kick since joining the Galaxy in 2007. The only other time that he did so was in July 2011 when he beat Chicago’s Sean Johnson from a corner at The Home Depot Center in the Galaxy’s 2-1 win over the Fire.

Additionally, Thursday’s goal was the 1,000th in the history of the CONCACAF Champions League, coming in the 16th game of the competition’s fifth year.

Beckham is the second Galaxy player to score a historic goal in the Champions League with Sean Franklin scoring the competition’s 500th goal away to Puerto Rico in August 2010. That was also Franklin’s first-ever goal with LA.

Donovan sits

After suffering a left hamstring strain while playing for the U.S. National Team against Mexico on August 15, Landon Donovan has missed each of LA’s last two games, including Thursday’s win over Metapan. That was the first time that Donovan missed a Galaxy game in the Champions League, playing in each of LA’s first 10 matches in the competition while starting nine of those games and scoring twice. He also played in both legs of LA’s Champions Cup quarterfinal defeat to Saprissa in 2006, scoring in the away leg in Costa Rica.

Three debuts

Bryan Gaul and Jose Villarreal each made their CONCACAF Champions League debuts on Thursday against Metapan while Marcelo Sarvas played his first-ever game in the competition for LA. Sarvas appeared in six games during the 2011/12 CCL with Alajuelense of Costa Rica, including a pair of games against the Galaxy.

Of the 29 players currently on the Galaxy roster, 23 have now represented the club in Champions League play. Of those 23, five – A.J. DeLaGarza, Landon Donovan, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee and Josh Saunders – have now played in 10 CCL games with LA.

Only Rafael Garcia, David Junior Lopes, Jack McBean, Kyle Nakazawa, Brian Rowe and Kenney Walker have not played in the Champions League for the Galaxy.

Vancouver up next

The Galaxy will return to MLS action on Saturday night when they host Vancouver Whitecaps FC at The Home Depot Center. That will be the third and final meeting of the season between the two sides and LA’s fourth game in 10 days. The Galaxy beat Vancouver 3-0 at The Home Depot Center on June 23 and scored twice in the final 10 minutes to claim a point in a 2-2 draw at BC Place on July 18.