CARSON, Calif. – Marcelo Sarvas knows what it's like to take on the LA Galaxy in a CONCACAF Champions League clash at the Home Depot Center, and he's not expecting Herediano to be intimidated for Wednesday night's quarterfinal second leg (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
The atmosphere, especially with attendance limited to 12,500 because of HDC's school-night agreement with Cal State Dominguez Hills, won't be what it was like in Costa Rica, where Galaxy players complained about being spat upon as they walked to the locker room following last week's 0-0 draw.
“You just have to control your emotions,” said Sarvas, who was in Alajuelense's midfield when the Galaxy won a group-stage match, 2-0, at the HDC in August 2011. “I remember when I came here with Alajuela, first you play against [the] jersey, which is Galaxy and big players. Then you come to play a game.
“They had the first game, they saw our team, and I think in the beginning they are always impressed to play against a bigger club. And then it's a game.”
The Galaxy were in a similar situation in last year's quarterfinals after drawing, 2-2, in the first leg at Toronto FC. They were eliminated with a home loss to their MLS rivals. In all, they are 5-2-0 at HDC during the Champions League era, the other loss a first-leg stunner against the Puerto Rico Islanders during the 2010 preliminary round.
Herediano have away wins in the competition against the Seattle Sounders during the 2011-12 group phase and Panama's Tauro FC last August, and they've played Cruz Azul (in a virtually meaningless preliminary-round game three-and-a-half years ago) and Real Salt Lake (in a group decider last October) to 0-0 draws on the road.
“Herediano is a good team; they're experienced,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Just like our team, we feel we're in position to advance, [and] I think so do they.”
If the artificial surface at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero favored Herediano in the first leg, the HDC's pristine turf offers no such advantage to the Galaxy.
“It's much better and easy [to play here],” said Sarvas, who played on far less forgiving turf than Herediano's when he was with Alajuelense. “The field here is perfect for soccer. If you have good quality, the players, you can do very well.”
Although the crowd in Heredia was small, it was spirited, and the Galaxy was “a little mad, getting spit on after the game, so there's a little bad taste in our mouths,” forward Mike Magee said. Herediano can expect no such treatment. Los Angeles is an easy place to visit.
“It's good weather, good people, good city [as a visitor],” Sarvas said. “They're going to have a very good atmosphere in there game. It won't be the same atmosphere they have [in Costa Rica]. Sometimes it looks like a neutral game, especially since we can't have the full stadium.”
What does that mean for the Galaxy?
“Doesn't matter,” the Brazilian midfielder said. “We are playing home, we are Galaxy. Every time you put the jersey Galaxy on, you have to do your best.”