CONCACAF Champions League: Estadio Caliente's playing surface could pose a problem for Galaxy
There’s no getting around the difficulties MLS teams have had in Mexico.
No MLS team has won a two-leg CONCACAF Champions League series when the second tie has been played south of the border. Elevation, hostile environments, well-financed sides with talent up and down the roster are the usual factors that have worked against North American clubs.
For the LA Galaxy’s second-leg quarterfinals matchup Tuesday against Club Tijuana (10 pm ET; Fox Sports 2, Galavision), however, the equation is a bit different.
There will be the pronounced crowd-based homefield advantage Liga MX teams usually enjoy, courtesy of the fans at raucous Estadio Caliente.
But there will be other factors to consider in this match-up. One could work for the Galaxy, as the game will be played at sea level. While that's not unusual in MLS, it is in Mexico, as the lion's share of top teams – including Cruz Azul and Toluca, in action on Wednesday against Sporting KC and San Jose respectively – play at altitude.
The other x-factor could work against LA: the fact that the game will take place on artificial turf.
Since 2012, LA have just two wins and nine points from 11 regular season away games on artificial turf. During that same span, the Galaxy have won eight of 23 away games on grass and have collected a total of 30 points over the past three seasons.
This represents a winning percentage that is almost double on grass and a 50 percent increase in points per game on natural surfaces.
Tijuana certainly uses their turf to their advantage, playing a fast-paced, high-pressure system. This home-field advantage at the “Dog Pound” has yielded grand results for the club.
Since the start of the 2012 Apertura, when they won the championship, the Xolos have won 27 of their 44 games at home in all competitions and have lost just four times.
It's a steep hill LA are climbing in this one. And it's not grass that they'll feel underfoot on their ascent.