MONTERREY, Mexico – The math is simple when it comes to the LA Galaxy’s bid to overcome a 2-1 deficit and reach the CONCACAF Champions League final, and it lays out a simple-sounding task (Wednesday, 10 pm ET; Fox Soccer, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“The reality for us is that we have to score two goals any way you slice it, if we’re going to advance,” Galaxy attacker Landon Donovan explained. “We could still score two goals and not advance, but if we don’t score two goals we have no chance of advancing.”
The actual execution, on the other hand, will be another matter entirely – no MLS team has scored two goals and won in Mexico, and only FC Dallas (at Pumas UNAM) and the Seattle Sounders (at Monterrey) accomplished the feat of victory in Mexico at all, both by 1-0 scorelines in 2011.
Nonetheless, the Galaxy are taking heart from last week’s encounter with Monterrey at the Home Depot Center, which ended 2-1 to the Mexican side, but gave the Galaxy plenty of confidence from the notion that they outplayed their visitors for 70 minutes.
“On a night when we’re a little bit better, we could win that game going away, and we didn’t,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters in Monterrey. “That’s the part that tells you how good Monterrey is and you need to respect that, and that’s what tells Monterrey how good we are.”
The numbers from the first leg between the Galaxy and Monterrey reflect a fairly even game. The Galaxy had seven shots to Monterrey’s eight, four shots on goal to Monterrey’s five. However, the Galaxy had a number of clear looks at the Monterrey goal, something which they believe bodes well for them if they can get their finishing down.
Explained Arena, “Against good teams if you’re positioned to score two, three, four goals, you’re doing something right, and I thought we were in position to score that many goals.”
And will LA look to put Monterrey on the back foot from the start to improve their chances of finding the net?
“I just think we want to be aggressive. I think the way we played the home game was great,” Donovan explained. “The game could look different here. I would expect that they will have some pressure and some impetus to be a little bit more aggressive than they were in LA, so it could be a relatively open game from that standpoint.”
Donovan, who is returning to match fitness after an extended break offseason break that saw him miss the first month of the MLS season, may just be the man to prosper in such an open game, especially if he can re-create the devastatingly effective partnership with Robbie Keane that carried the Galaxy through much of the back end of the 2012 season, which he says will be no problem.
“That’s always easy for him and I, even the first day I was back training," Donovan said of himself and Keane. "We understand the game the same way so that part’s easy, so hopefully it produces tomorrow.”