CARSON, Calif. – Nothing went according to plan for the LA Galaxy in Saturday night's 2-2 home draw with Seattle Sounders FC, and that could mean that they field a stronger XI than anticipated in Tuesday's Leagues Cup semifinal (10:30 pm ET | ESPN,2, TUDN in US, TSN1/4 in Canada).
Center back Daniel Steres' sixth-minute red card “kind of changes” the plans for Tuesday's lineup against Cruz Azul, head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto acknowledged, with Steres now figuring to play a significant role against the Mexico City giants. Same for playmaking midfielder Favio Alvarez, who exited in the 33rd minute against the Sounders to get Giancarlo Gonzalez onto the backline.
“I don't know who will start in the game Tuesday,” Schelotto said during his postgame media session. “But we got some players, like Steres or Favio. For sure, [midfielder Joe Corona] will play. He's ready, too.”
Cruz Azul is the fourth game the Galaxy will have played in 10 days, and a quick glance at LA's lineups for the loss at D.C. United last week, the 2-0 midweek triumph over FC Dallas and the draw with the Sounders provides a good idea of those less likely to see the field.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan dos Santos, Diego Polenta and David Bingham played every minute of the three games, and Rolf Feltscher and Cristian Pavon came close. Sebastian Lletget and Jorgen Skjelvik went the full 90 in the latter two games.
“I don't know [about] Ibra or Pavon, because they played three games in a row in one week, and this is very hard,” Schelotto said. 'Even [more so] today, when we play with one less player [from the sixth minute].”
HIGHLIGHTS: LA Galaxy vs. Club Tijuana | July 23, 2019
The Galaxy regulars are a bit fatigued, and they need time to refresh ahead of a crucial Heineken Rivalry Week showdown Sunday at crosstown rivals LAFC. Schelotto will have to determine if Gonzalez, who was on the bench against Dallas, is good to go after playing most of the Saturday's game. The Costa Rican standout partnered with Dave Romney in central defense in the July 23 Leagues Cup opener against Club Tijuana.
Steres is likely to play alongside Romney against Cruz Azul, and Matt Lampson, whose heroics during the shootout sent LA to the semifinals, will surely be in the nets. Corona, who missed the D.C. and Dallas games with a slight knee injury, will be in midfield after coming on at the end of Saturday's game.
Defender/midfielder Julian Araujo is suspended after picking up two yellow cards against Tijuana, but fellow teen Efrain Alvarez has played just 60 minutes in the past eight days – all against Dallas – and could line up next to Favio Alvarez.
Schelotto used a young team against Tijuana, in which the Galaxy prevailed on penalties following a 2-2 draw, giving starts to Homegrown striker Ethan Zubak, rookie midfielder Emil Cuello and LA Galaxy II midfielder Kai Koreniuk. He brought second-year defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce and Galaxy II forward/midfielder Don Tchilao off the bench in the second half.
“I think it's a good opportunity for some players [to] show me something more,” Schelotto said. “And [it's important] for the young players [to] play with Cruz Azul and compete with them.
“Not just come and play 90 minutes against Cruz Azul. They want to compete, they want to win, they want to feel like every time they play, they have to try to win.”