CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy can't lose and can't give up a goal in a tie in Wednesday night's second leg in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Herediano at the Home Depot Center (10 pm ET; Fox Soccer). The simplest plan: shutout.
That's LA's aim as they look to book a berth in the semifinals, almost certainly against two-time defending champions Monterrey. And now that they're back on their home field, with its manicured turf, they see no reason they shouldn't be able to do so.
“We'll take one goal,” said forward Mike Magee, whose goal in last week's 0-0 draw in the first leg in Costa Rica was waved off by an errant offside flag. “We believe in our defense. We just got to win. It's a dream situation. We don't need to think about scoring two goals or anything like that, we just need to win the game. We need to come out sharp and score the first goal.”
Scoring one won't be enough if Herediano manage to equalize, or should the Florenses find the net first. A 0-0 draw forces overtime and, perhaps, penalties. A draw in which goals are scored sends Herediano through on the away goals rule. The Galaxy have to win, and the Costa Ricans haven't conceded a goal in four of the five games they've played in this competition, including both group-stage encounters with Real Salt Lake.
“It's going to be a tough game,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “They're not going to lie down, no doubt about that. We think they're going to come in and be a lot more defensive than they were in the first leg, but they're going to look to get set pieces, get counterattacks. That was the only time they were dangerous in the first leg, was off set pieces. I expect them to look for little fouls around the box and dive and do whatever they can to get calls.”
That tactic worked in the first leg, with Ismael Gómez hitting the turf under minimal contact from Sean Franklin to snare a penalty kick, which he then booted off the crossbar.
Gómez, who came on at halftime, and left-footer Elias Aguilar, who hobbled off in the 78th minute but has traveled to Southern California, generated nearly all of Herediano's attack but couldn't find the net. Chicago also didn't score on the Galaxy in the MLS opener.
“[Aguilar] was dangerous, smooth on the ball – he obviously knows that [artificial] surface well, and it plays to his strengths,” Dunivant said. “Those are guys we'll have to keep our eyes on. They're danger men, they've got some speed. But in the end, we still got the zero, which was the biggest thing for us. Two games, two shutouts is a good sign for us and for our defense.”
Robbie Keane says it'll be necessary to play at a “high tempo, especially if the field is nice and wet, and keep the ball moving very quickly, because, obviously, they're not used to that where they play, [on] turf with no wetness.”
“It's in our hands, really,” Keane said. “Playing at home, on a pitch we're obviously comfortable with. I think you'll see a different game than you saw in Costa Rica.”