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Isidro Metapan vs. LA Galaxy | CONCACAF Champions League Preview

ESTADIO CUSCATLAN, San Salvador, El Salvador
October 24, 2013 (CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage)
9 pm ET (FOX Sports 2)

The LA Galaxy have already clinched their third consecutive spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals ahead of Thursday’s Group 8 finale against El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan (0-1-1). But there’s still plenty to play for. 

The Galaxy (3-0-0) will focus on seeding in the knockout round, which will begin in March of next year. Metapan (0-2-1), meanwhile, will be playing for pride in front of a home crowd at Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador, about two hours from their normal home turf of Estadio Jorge Calero Suarez in Metapan. The Galaxy won the first meeting between the two clubs, 1-0 on Sept. 18 at the StubHub Center, thanks to an early Laurent Courtois goal. The two sides also met twice in the group stage of the 2012-13 competition with LA winning 5-2 at home before earning a 3-2 win in El Salvador.

LA Galaxy team news

The Galaxy’s scoreless draw over the weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes meant their regular-season finale against the Seattle Sounders will have plenty of playoff implications as the two clubs jostle for position. The Galaxy did qualify for the playoffs with their last result, but they still have work to do if they are to avoid the knockout round by finishing above the final two playoff spots.

The Galaxy are currently in third place in the Western Conference but Seattle and the Colorado Rapids are just a point behind in fourth and fifth, respectively. A win over Seattle would secure a top-three spot for the Galaxy. Planning accordingly, head coach Bruce Arena traveled a lineup of mostly reserves to El Salvador as star forward Landon Donovan and defender Omar Gonzalez continue to recover from injuries.

But LA will have several first-team players on hand who are looking to round back into form or will be unavailable on Sunday. Defender A.J. DeLAGarza, who hasn’t played since dislocating his elbow Sept. 14 against D.C. United, is on the travel roster and expects to play to help regain top form. And midfielder Juninho, who is suspended for the Seattle match, also will be available.

The Galaxy did just fine without their stars in their last CONCACAF match, a 3-0 win Sept. 25 over Cartagines. Jack McBean, Chandler Hoffman and Courtois all scored in that match. Homegrown Player Oscar Sorto made his competitive debut in that match, as well.

Isidro Metapan team news

Metapan are coming off two wins and a tie in their last three competitions in the Salvadoran Primera Division schedule, beating UES 3-2 on Saturday and a 4-2 win over FAS on Oct. 5. They played Atletico Marte to a scoreless draw on Oct. 13. They are currently in third place in the table with 20 points from 13 matches.

Nicolas Muñoz, a 31-year-old forward, leads the team with six goals in league play this season. And he’s no stranger to success in the CCL; he scored his team’s only two goals against the Galaxy in 2012 and recorded a hat trick against Puerto Rico Islanders earlier that year.

Hector Ramos, a 23-year-old forward, is close behind with five goals in league play this season. The Puerto Rican, who formerly played for the Islanders, recorded a brace in Metapan’s most recent victory over UES and a goal in their win over FAS.

About the CONCACAF Champions League

The CONCACAF Champions League is North America's top club competition and consists of 24 teams separated into eight groups of three teams that play a round-robin, home-and-away format. The winner of each group advances to the quarterfinals, with quarterfinal seeding determined by total points accumulated in group play. The winner of the 2013-2014 CCL will represent CONCACAF in the 2014 Club World Cup in Morocco.