BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico – The LA Galaxy's reserve lineup lacked the spark that took it to an emphatic victory three weeks ago over the Puerto Rico Islanders and settled for a scoreless draw in Wednesday night's return match in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Brian Perk made three big saves and the Galaxy (2-0-1) made certain Group 5 remains a two-team race, eliminating the Islanders (0-2-1) before a sparse crowd at Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel.
Isidro Metapán (1-1-0) play next week at Puerto Rico and are home against the Galaxy in the Oct. 25 group finale. The Galaxy won the first meeting with the Salvadorans, 5-2; head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker in group play.
Perk made a one-on-one stop on Nicholas Addlery at the start and diving saves on Noah Delgado in the 71st minute and Joseph Marrero in the 89th as the Galaxy posted their fifth straight shutout and extended their unbeaten streak to eight games in all competitions. Their five-game winning streak was halted.
LA started the second half much stronger than they ended the first and were unfortunate not to go ahead in the 49th minute. Kenney Walker took a feed from Rafael Garcia at the right post, and only a flailing save by goalkeeper Richard Martin kept him out.
Second-half sub Landon Donovan had a chance in the 65th following a short corner kick, but his deflected shot was cleared off the line at the far post by Martin. Hector Jimenez whistled just past the far post in the 78th and Edson Buddle failed to pounce on a loose ball in front of the net three minutes later.
Juninho nearly gave LA the victory near the end, but he hit the side netting from a Michael Stephens feed when one-on-one with Martin in the 87th. Garcia fired high from the right in stoppage.
That was it for real chances; the Galaxy lacked for ideas when other opportunities presented themselves.
LA made just one change in their lineup from the meeting three weeks ago at the Home Depot Center, with Buddle making his initial first-team start – in place of teen forward Jack McBean – since undergoing knee surgery in late May. The reserve lineup again featured five rookies: defenders Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul, midfielders Walker and Garcia, and forward Jose Villarreal.
The first half was quite lackluster, with the Galaxy dictating more of the play but Puerto Rico utilizing better energy for better chances. Only one of them mattered – Perk made a fine near-post save to deny Addlery after a byline run on the left in the seventh minute – and Jamaican referee Raymond Bogle refused to entertain Addlery's flop at Garcia's feet in the 39th.
Addlery didn't get the call when he went down again in the 52nd, and Meyer made a fine tackle just inside the box on Noah Delgado after a ball over the top 10 minutes later. Perk made a diving stop on Delgado's long-distance blast with about 20 minutes to go, Addlery fired high in the box about two-and-a-half minutes later, and late substitute Josh Hansen fired right at Perk from close range in the 75th and Hector Ramos did likewise from above the box in the 89th. Marrero's late chance ended the Islanders' hopes.
The Galaxy are back in action in MLS play on Saturday night against Toronto FC at the Home Depot Center.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Brian Perk||If not for Josh Saunders' understudy, LA might be going home with a loss; his late heroics were crucial.|
|2||Jay Needham||Former SMU star was enormous in Islanders midfield, helping to keep high-pressing LA attack off board.|
|3||Rafael Garcia||Rookie was most active of young lineup on both sides of the ball; led LA with 55 completed passes.|