CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy know it would better to get out of the home leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal against Monterrey with an advantage, but they're confident that they can advance to the final regardless of what occurs Wednesday night at the Home Depot Center (10 pm ET; Fox Soccer, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
The Rayados won the past two editions of the CCL to advance to the FIFA Club World Cup and have lost just three times in 30 CCL games, and only once at home. In spite of all that, LA believe they can get the result required in next week's second leg at Monterrey.
“The good thing about [our] team is we don't have to rely on even winning this first game,” said Landon Donovan, who returned to action in Saturday's MLS draw at Toronto FC following a nearly four-month sabbatical. “Even if we drew the game or lost the game, we're a really good road team. ... So we don't worry about one of the 90-minute legs, we worry about the whole 180 minutes, or possibly more than that.
“Ideally, you win at home, but it's not an absolute must. ... Don't get me wrong. We want to start off the right way here, but if things don't go exactly as according to plan, then we're confident we can go to Monterrey and get a result there, too.”
Donovan's participation in the game is uncertain. He says he's not ready to play a full 90 – he went 30 minutes or so in Toronto – and head coach Bruce Arena says moving his former captain along is not a priority. Robbie Keane, who trained fully Monday after suffering a calf injury in a World Cup qualifier 10 days earlier, might be ready; Arena says he expects the Irishman “to be available.”
“We'll see how it goes Wednesday,” Donovan said. “I have to see how I react this week in training, but, you know, Jack [McBean] and Jose [Villarreal] have done a great job. If Robbie's fit and healthy, then he's obviously playing. Mike [Magee]'s done well there, so I've got to be respectful and wait my turn, too. And I've got to produce. I don't just get free minutes 'cause I'm back. I have to earn them. I'm aware of that, and I'll be ready to go whenever they need me.”
Defender A.J. DeLaGarza said it's “important to get a shutout” on Wednesday, that “it's going to be tough going into Mexico and scoring a goal.
“Mexican teams can score five goals easily at home,” DeLaGarza continued. “It's important we really work on our defensive shape and not take any chances.”
Arena isn't obsessing over specifics.
“You could play poorly and win,” he said. “We don't know what it's going to take. My assumption is we're going to have to play well. You don't know how any of these games unfold. ... It's just simply going to be a question on the night who's more opportunistic, who'd playing well. It's all it is. It's that simple. We're not going to change a whole lot from what we've done, and, hopefully, it will be good enough.”