CSD Comunicaciones vs. LA Galaxy
2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League Group D
October 21 | 10 pm ET | Estadio Cementos Progreso, Guatemala City
TV: Fox Soccer Plus
The Galaxy are already through to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals after romping to lopsided home wins against Trinidad and Tobago's Central FC and Comunicaciones and then claiming a point in last month's visit to Trinidad, so they're jockeying for position in a fluid situation that will have cleared up by the time this game kicks off.
None of Thursday's games have any impact on who will qualify, and once Tuesday's results provide the winners of Group A (Saprissa or Santos Laguna), E (likely Club América, possibly Motagua) and G (Real Salt Lake or Municipal) and Wednesday's early game settles Group B (Tigres or Herediano), LA will know where they sit and with whom they'll match up with every possible result.
Comunicaciones have been hot, going 7-1-2 in a 10-game stretch before a 2-0 loss Sunday at Suchitepéquez.
ALL ABOUT THE SEED: The Galaxy made quick work of Group D, clinching the quarterfinal berth after just three games – and it was over, for all intents and purposes, after the five-goal romps in the home games back in August. The other three teams that have already advanced (Seattle, D.C. United and Querétaro) are finished with group play, and LA with a victory would finish above all of them for seeding purposes. They'd have a good shot at the No. 2 seed, behind Club América, with a win, and that could mean a final-eight date with Saprissa, the Sounders or Real Salt Lake – better than facing a Mexican foe, given the competition's history and how the spring schedule favors clubs from south of the border. Or it could mean a home-and-home with Querétaro, from, yes, Mexico.
REMEMBER T.J.: If the Galaxy need a reminder of why this game really is important, they need look no further than their loss at this stage two years ago at winless Isidro Metapán. LA were in position to avoid the Mexican powers in the quarters after cruising through their first three Group 8 games at a 6-0 clip. A victory would have meant a top-three seed – No. 2 with a three-goal triumph – and a showdown with Alajuelense or Sporting Kansas City. Instead, the Galaxy were blown out 4-0, dropped to No. 6 in the rankings and had to play Club Tijuana in the quarterfinals. The Xolos finished off the Galaxy the following spring.
CRITICAL WEEKEND: LA's 5-2 loss Sunday night against Portland somewhat complicated their bid for a top-two seed in the Western Conference and the opening-round playoff bye that goes with it. Their path is still simple: Win at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, and they're No. 2. To ensure this, head coach Bruce Arena acknowledged it “will likely be the case” that his starters skip the trip to Guatemala, as they did last month's trek to Trinidad, and work toward the MLS regular season finale. So expect a reserve lineup from the Galaxy.
INJURY REPORT: The Galaxy are as healthy as they've been all season. Only reserve goalkeeper Brian Perk, on the season-ending injury list all year, and youngster Bradford Jamieson IV, shut down after his second concussion, are definitely out, and we'll see about Baggio Husidic, who has rehabbed his knee injury and is itching to play but did not make it onto LA's 18-man game-day roster against Portland. A.J. DeLaGarza was in the 18 but did not play Sunday because of an unspecified injury, but he's unlikely to make the trip regardless of his fitness.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TODD DUNIVANT, LA GALAXY: The veteran left back is wrapping up a 13-year professional career this fall, and this could offer an opportunity for his final appearance in a Galaxy jersey. Injuries have cost him most of the past two seasons, and he's not been on the field for the first team since the July 21 International Champions Cup friendly against Barcelona. He says he's fit and ready to go and hopeful to see action in Guatemala City.
EMILIANO LOPEZ, COMUNICACIONES: The 27-year-old Argentine forward was the top scorer in the Liga Nacional's Clausura last spring, scoring 13 goals for Suchitepéquez. He joined Los Cremas over the summer and, after a brief acclimation, has been scoring regularly, with six strikes in the last nine matches.