LA primed for "well-prepared" Motagua side in CCL opener
CARSON, Calif. — For LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena to properly scout his first CONCACAF Champions League opponent, all he needs to do is look at his counterpart.
Former Honduras national team coach Ramón "Primitivo" Maradiaga will pace the sidelines at the Home Depot Center on Tuesday when his Motagua side visits the Galaxy in the Group A opener for both sides.
"Outstanding coach," Arena said. "That tells me this team we're going to play [Tuesday] is going to be very well prepared for the game."
Arena and Maradiaga have traded jabs at the international level. In 2001 World Cup qualifying, the US took a surprise 2-1 win over Honduras out of San Pedro Sula in March. Honduras struck back in September, beating the Americans 3-2 in Washington, D.C., but ultimately the US made it through while Honduras crashed out.
Maradiaga also guided Guatemala to the final round of 2005 World Cup qualifying, but once again crashed out, losing 2-0 to Arena’s US team in Birmingham and then tying 0-0 in Guatemala City in the later stages.
Maradiaga has found success with Motagua as well and has pieced together a strong and experienced club.
"I've known him, I've seen him on and off through the years and he's one of these coaches or managers, however you want to describe him, that's well respected in the business," Arena said.
No matter what sort of quality Motagua have, whether it's on the field or on the bench, the Galaxy have prepared for this match with as much patience and focus and determination as they have for any other opponent in 2011.
"We want to make sure we get a really good start tomorrow," Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. "We had a long time — a week-and-a-half now — to prepare for them so we're going to come out with a lot of energy. We want to win the game, no question about it."
Facing the Galaxy will be a team made up of former MLS players such as Amado Guevara and Guillermo "Pando" Ramírez, as well as current Honduras national team players such as forward Jerry Bengtson. Motagua qualified to the CCL by ousting Guatemalan side Municipal with a 4-2 aggregate score — the teams took turns shutting the other out at home.
"They get a lot of support in the attack with their outside backs," Arena said. "They are a good team. I would say it's a very balanced team and they can get scoring out of a bunch of positions."
The Galaxy are hosting their first two CCL games — Costa Rican side Alajuela will visit on Aug. 25 — but that doesn’t mean that their jobs will get any easier.
"You have to — you've got to win both,” Donovan said. “You can't expect that you are going to get a whole lot of points on the road. We have to win our home games and then get a few points on the road and that's how we'll qualify."