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CCL: LA's task now trickier after 0-0 draw in Puerto Rico

Rafael Garcia and the Galaxy in Puerto Rico

Photo Credit: 
Josue Rivera-Rios/M&A Photo Corp/CONCACAF

BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico – The LA Galaxy slipped up in their CONCACAF Champions League match Wednesday night, the 0-0 draw with the Puerto Rico Islanders presenting Isidro Metapán a realistic path to the Group 5 title as clubs jockey for knockout-stage seeding.

It was a disappointment, to be sure, but the role humidity would play in the encounter was apparent almost from the opening kickoff.

Galaxy players revealed that getting through the game was a battle in itself, that it was difficult sometimes just to breathe, and their chances to end the stalemate wilted as their legs wearied.

They were happy to escape the island with a point.

“I’ve experienced a couple of these types of conditions in the Pacific islands,” said defender Andrew Boyens, who has played for New Zealand's national team. “It’s 100 percent humidity, and it really saps you from the first minute. It’s tough to get your air in.

“But the boys battled really hard today, and while it wasn’t as pretty as [the 4-0 victory three weeks ago] was up in LA, to come down here and get a tie was good.”

Captain Landon Donovan, who came off the bench with about a half-hour to go, acknowledged the Galaxy “wore out a little bit at the end.”

“You can tell that [Puerto Rico] are a lot more used to playing in this than we are,” he said. “They had some good energy still at the end. I think that Bruce [Arena] did a good job of getting some of us fresh guys into the game to try and make a play, but on the night it just wasn’t going to be.”

How costly will that be for the Galaxy? If Isidro Metapán beat the now-eliminated Islanders next week here at Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel, they would claim a quarterfinal berth with a victory over LA in the Oct. 25 group finale in El Salvador. Had the Galaxy won, Metapán would have needed a 3-0 or 4-1 victory over LA – or any win by four or more goals – to claim the group title.

“Well, we'll see if Puerto Rico beat Metapán here, then it’s over, and even if they tie, it’s going to make it really difficult,” Donovan said. “We’ll do a little scoreboard-watching and hope that it is all wrapped up, but if not, then we have to go in there and win, which we’re prepared to do.”

Arena said he hoped the Islanders “show up and play next weekend like they did” in the draw. “If they do that, they'll give [Metapán] a game.”