“Those two are as good as any two forwards anywhere,” Landon Donovan said this week ahead of the Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series vs. Monterrey (first leg: Wednesday, 10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Suazo and de Nigris have played alongside each other since 2009, leading los Rayados to two Mexican top-flight trophies and back-to-back CCL titles. Stylistically, they complement each other perfectly, with the smaller, trickier Suazo bringing the form and the powerful, six-foot-plus de Nigris bringing the function.
“De Nigris has been good for a long time. He’s a big presence,” LA centerback Omar Gonzalez — who grew up a Monterrey fan — said on Tuesday. “He manages to get himself into the box always and always finishes off scoring chances. [Suazo] scores amazing goals. His technical ability is great. And he’s very crafty and very clever, making good runs.”
Gonzalez will be the main cog in the Galaxy defense, tasked most likely with covering de Nigris on set pieces. To stop the pair, though, he and fellow center back Leonardo — or possibly A.J. DeLaGarza, depending on how coach Bruce Arena sets up the backline — will need help from central midfielders Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. They will look to track Suazo when he drops back into the midfield and either dribbles at the defense or provides service to De Nigris.
Regardless of the choice Suazo makes in those moments, it is vital for the Galaxy to contain him if they are going to have any chance of winning the two-game series and get to the CCL finals. After all, he is arguably the best player plying his trade in CONCACAF.
“[Suazo] is a goalscorer,” Arena said. “He’s a playmaker. He’s a free-kick specialist. He’s the real deal.”