CCL Recap: Galaxy strike early, top Motagua in opener
CARSON, Calif. — Adam Cristman and Landon Donovan scored goals on either side of halftime as the LA Galaxy got off to a triumphant start in CONCACAF Champions League, beating Honduran side Motagua by 2-0 at the Home Depot Center on Tuesday.
The Galaxy shot to the top of Group A with the win, tied with Costa Rican side Alajuelense with three points apeice. The teams will face each other at the Home Depot Center on Aug. 25, with a chance to take a stranglehold on what Donovan called the toughest group in the tournament.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA 2, Motagua 0
Not having played a match since Aug. 6, the Galaxy came out charged up for the start of the tournament. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena fielded a strong lineup, with a backline of Todd Dunivant, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza.
Almost from the start, the Galaxy put pressure on Motagua’s backline. The Galaxy played with a high amount of energy and created chances because of it.
However, the only chance the hosts were able to capitalize was in the 13th minute. Juninho laid a through ball in DeLaGarza’s path. From the right side of the penalty area, DeLaGarza slipped the ball to the front of the goal and Cristman slid and knocked the ball across the goal line.
Cristman had several other scoring opportunities in the half — most notably a wide-open attempt in late in the first half that he sent well wide.
The Galaxy maintained their high amount of pressure on the Hondurans and it paid off on the hour. David Beckham danced around a defender near the right touchline and knocked a ball to the front of the goal. The ball bounced towards Donovan on the far post and the US national-team standout controlled it with his chest and ripped a ball into the back of the net.
Motagua went down to 10 men in the 70th minute when former MLSer Iván Guerrero hacked down Sean Franklin and earned a red card for the challenge.
In the 74th minute, Saunders made a pair of stellar saves to keep Motagua scoreless. First, former Galaxy midfielder Guillermo “Pando” Ramírez walked in on Saunders and fired a shot on goal, but Saunders extended his leg and cleared the ball away. Motagua worked the ball back into the front of the goal and Jerry Bengtson hit a header on goal but Saunders dived and cleared the ball away with his feet once more.
LA -- Adam Cristman (A.J. DeLaGarza, Juninho) 13
LA -- Landon Donovan (David Beckham) 60
MOT -- Ivan Guerrero (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 70
LA -- Gregg Berhalter (caution; Reckless Foul) 90
CD Motagua -- Donaldo Morales, Junior Izaguirre, Johnny Leveron, Sergio Mendoza, Carlos Discua (Brayan Garcia 63), Jorge Claros, Ivan Guerrero, Amado Guevara, Aly Arriola (Emilson Cruz 88), Guillermo Ramirez (Esdras Padilla 76), Jerry Bengtson.
Substitutes Not Used: Kerpo De Leon, Luis Lopez, David Molina.
LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin (Chris Birchall 84), David Beckham (Michael Stephens 76), Juninho, Mike Magee (Miguel Lopez 88), Adam Cristman, Landon Donovan.
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Dan Keat, Brian Perk.
Referee: Enrico Winjgaarde
Referee's Assistants: -Ricardo Louisville; Garnet Page
4th Official: Kevin Thomas
Time of Game: 1:48
Weather: Clear and 64 degrees