CONCACAF Champions League: Herculez Gomez, Tijuana promise "very tough day" for LA Galaxy
TIJUANA, Mexico – It's the eve of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal's decisive leg, and the question is about the LA Galaxy's impressions of Club Tijuana, from their triumph in last week's first leg.
Herculez Gomez knows what's coming. The Xoloitzcuintles striker has heard the patter before.
“They don't know what to expect. ... We're narrow,” he interrupts. “What else?”
Well, that your alignment is unorthodox and that there's so much interchange going on – and Gomez jumps in again: “You don't know what to expect.”
In a nutshell, yes, and that's just one of the advantages the Xolos believe they'll have in Tuesday's second leg at Estadio Caliente (10 pm ET, Fox Sports 2/Galavision), when they seek to overcome a 1-0 deficit and advance to a semifinal showdown with Cruz Azul or Sporting Kansas City.
Tijuana are on home ground, with a rabid crowd right on top of the artificial surface, an atmosphere that's “not something they experience every week,” Gomez says. “A different animal.”
But it's what the Xolos can do, especially at home, that has them confident things will turn out just fine.
“We can be very unpredictable, and that's a very dangerous fighter to face,” said Gomez, a former Galaxy forward and one of a half-dozen Americans with Tijuana's first team. “The good thing about a fight, it just takes one punch. And we're one of those teams, we have some punch.”
The Xolos were the aggressors throughout the second half last Wednesday night at StubHub Center, with Gomez coming off the bench to send a diving header just wide with one of their best goal opportunities.
Gomez said he was “fairly confident that if we can put together a performance like we did in the second half, it's going to be a very tough day for” the Galaxy.
Tijuana have lost just once in their last 19 home games, a 3-0 decision to Chiapas on Feb. 21, and are 27-4-13 (with 27 shutouts) at Caliente since embarking on their 2012 Apertura championship campaign.
“We expect a lot of home-field advantage,” said midfielder Joe Corona (right), another of the Xolos' Yanks. “It's their first time here. They clearly know it's going to be a tough game for them. They have a little advantage, and I think we have a lot of confidence. Our stadium is really hard for [opposing] teams to get a tie.”
“For sure, we have to make our home-field advantage work for us,” he said. “We understand they're maybe not a team that every week has to face such a hostile environment. I'm not saying that to demean them or their league, but that's just the reality of it. I saw when I played certain teams in Champions League before, and sometimes they're not used to it, and you never really know how they're going to act in that position.
“So I'm hoping to put [the Galaxy] in that situation and see how they act.”