CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy haven't forgotten what happened last time they took on the Puerto Rico Islanders. It’s hard to forget being routed, 4-1, at home in the first-leg of what would turn out to be a 5-3 aggregate loss in the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round.
That was two years ago. But the Galaxy will still have that defeat in mind when they meet again Wednesday night (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer). And, yes, payback is on their checklist.
“Right when the draw came out [we started thinking about it],” midfielder Michael Stephens told reporters on Tuesday. “It's the team that knocked us out of this competition two years ago, so we wouldn't mind getting some revenge on them.”
Midfielder Mike Magee says the Galaxy overlooked Puerto Rico in 2010, but it won't happen this time.
“Sometimes you assume just because they're in a [lower] league, you can just play half a game,” he said. “To be honest, if we don't play our best, don't play our hardest, not only can they beat us, they can smash us.”
Seven players from Puerto Rico's lineups in the HDC victory and a 2-1 Galaxy win a week later in Bayamón are still with the club, not all of them in starting roles, and eight have MLS experience, including top scorer Nicholas Addlery, who has nine goals in all competitions. He scored twice in the Islanders' 2010 victory.
“He was a complete handful,” Magee said. “He was amazing. He's somebody I think probably single-handedly beat us last time.”
The Islanders have been struggling in front of the goal lately, though. They've been shut out in last three games in the North American Soccer League, haven't scored in 309 minutes and are second (at 10-7-6) on goal difference, five points behind first-place San Antonio.
That means nothing to the Galaxy.
“These games are different, and they have a different approach in these games,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “And certainly this is where they hand their hat, on these games, and they're going to put everything they have into it. They want to be able to go back to Puerto Rico and say they beat the Galaxy.”
The Galaxy will have to rearrange their lineup. Robbie Keane is suspended, Landon Donovan is hurt, David Beckham is ill and Saturday's looming league showdown with Vancouver will be their fourth game in 11 days. But regardless, the approach won't change.
“The lesson [from last time] is to come out strong,” Dunivant said. “I think in these kind of games they're going to sit and look to counter a little bit. We have to be solid defensively and not give the ball away in careless areas. And when we get our chances, we've got to finish, because they're going to look for the two, three chances they're going to get, and they're going to try to punish us.”