The LA Galaxy struggled to create the kind of opportunities on Wednesday night in Monterrey that they had in last week's first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, leaving themselves little chance to overcome the two-time defending champions' advantage and find a way into the final.
It wasn't why they lost the series.
“Maybe the first game killed us, you know?” Galaxy captain Robbie Keane said after Monterrey completed a 3-1 aggregate triumph with a 1-0 victory at Estadio Tecnólogico. “When you have opportunities to take [the series], certainly at home, we have to take them, and that wasn’t the case, so it was always going to be difficult tonight when you lose two goals at home.”
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Heading into the game, LA had tried to minimize the impact of their late collapse in the opening leg – they scored one goal, might have had two more, then surrendered a pair in the final 10 minutes – but there was clear recognition Wednesday regarding why they weren't moving on.
“We may have lost this series in the last 10 minutes of last week in Los Angeles,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “We made it very difficult for ourselves and tonight was going to be hard because of the way we played in the last 10 minutes last week.”
The Galaxy were the better team for 75 minutes April 3 at the Home Depot Center, but Monterrey goalkeeper Juan de Díos Ibarra made big saves on Jose Villarreal and Robbie Keane, and the Rayados took charge of midfield after Juninho departed after an hour because of a massive headache. Monterrey's late push led to goals by Humberto Suazo in the 82nd minute and Aldo de Nigris in stoppage time. De Nigris scored Monterrey's home goal, too.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot from last week,” said midfielder Mike Magee, forced by a hip injury to come off the bench in Monterrey. “To be fair, [Monterrey] is a very good team that plays, obviously, very well at home. To be fair, we lost last week.”
“We have to take care of business at home,” he continued. “You can't expect to come to a club like this and get a win. It's not impossible, but it's very difficult.”
LA played well again in Monterrey, but they couldn't break down an organized Rayados defense marshaled by captain José María Basanta.
“In the critical moments, they made the plays and we didn't,” said Landon Donovan, who went 90 minutes for the first time this year. “To only have scored one goal with the chances we had in those two games was disappointing. So that part we have to be better at, but all in all we played against a team with three or four or five times the salary we have with very good players all over the field, and I thought we played very well, we just came up short.”
But the Galaxy must move on, as Robbie Keane pointed out, with a road game on Saturday at the Western Conference's first-place team, FC Dallas (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
"We have to pick ourselves back up," the Irishman said. "We've got another game on Saturday, so that's the good thing about football is that there's always another game.”