Club Tijuana vs. LA Galaxy | CONCACAF Champions League Match Preview

Club Tijuana vs. LA Galaxy
Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, second leg
March 18, 2014; 10 pm ET/7 pm PT (FOX Sports 2, Galavision)

It’s time for Round 2 as the LA Galaxy head to Mexico with just one goal: Get to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

Standing in their way, though, are cross-border rivals Club Tijuana, aiming to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the series and make some history of their own in their first CCL appearance.

Though the Galaxy got a winning result in the first leg of the series after controlling the run of play and didn’t concede a goal (away goals are the first tiebreaker in a CCL series if the score is even on aggregate), they will have a number of factors going against them this time around. Not only will they be playing away from home, they will be doing so on turf inside a stadium where some of the most raucous fans in Mexico always seem one push away from spilling onto the field.

The Xolos, however, have been in somewhat rocky form of late. After dropping the first leg against the Galaxy, they went on the road to face fellow CCL quarterfinalists Cruz Azul in Mexico City and despite taking the lead got thoroughly outplayed, losing 2-1 while resting some faces for the second leg.

LA, of course, are also rested after receiving a bye in Week 2 of MLS action and have picked up no new injuries, meaning they should field a largely unchanged lineup for the first leg of the series. One area to keep an eye on is at right wing, where Gyasi Zardes struggled mightily last Wednesday. Newcomer Stefan Ishizaki, on the other hand, impressed after entering the game as a 69th-minute substitute and could be in line for a start.

Tijuana's form, busy schedule and flagging playoff push make things trickier to predict for them lineup-wise. There should be a few familiar faces for American fans, including one of Edgar Castillo (started vs. Cruz Azul) or Greg Garza (started vs. LA Galaxy, first leg) at the left back spot. Joe Corona could also start, though Herculez Gomez's lack of recent form makes him a question mark for the starting XI. Paul Arriola and Alejandro Guido, young Americans both, are unlikely to start this game but could be in line for time off the bench after showing well over the weekend.

Other key contributors for Xolos will include Javier Gandolfi, Hernán Pellerano (defense), Cristián Pellerano (midfielder) and Fidel Martínez (forward). Xolos head coach César Farías is able to throw out a variety of looks tactically, but with his side needing to make up a deficit, don't be surprised if he goes with an attack-oriented 4-4-2 look.


Possible XIs

Tijuana (4-4-2): Saucedo; Núñez, Gandolfi, H. Pellerano, Garza; Güemez, C. Pellerano, Corona, Martínez ; Benedetto, Ayoví

LA Galaxy (4-4-2): Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Riley; Ishizaki, Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Samuel


What They’re Saying

"It's a war. You have to challenge every ball, you cannot lose 50-50 balls, you have to show them you are there. You are not there to get punished, you're there to fight.”
– LA Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas (MLSsoccer.com)

"There are few places in MLS that are as difficult as going to Tijuana so this will be a good test for us. Fortunately we've had a lot of guys who have played in games like this and know what they're doing. We expect they are going to throw everything at us, and we want that, we want a good test and a good challenge.”
– LA Galaxy midfielder/forward Landon Donovan (LAGalaxy.com)

"We play in a city very far from Mexico City, it's difficult when we travel, and when we play at home it's an advantage. We played in Los Angeles last Wednesday and left the series open coming home. If we go through on Tuesday [vs. the Galaxy] it will have been a good decision."
– Tijuana coach César Farías, on his decision to rest key players against Cruz Azul (Record.com.mx)


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