For the first time in club history the Galaxy play a legitimate Champions League game.
Well, a preliminary round game anyway. And it’s against the “minor league” Puerto Rico Islanders not a big name club. Oh, and it’s the CONCACAF version not the famous UEFA edition.
Still, for Galaxy fans tonight’s 7 o’clock game at Home Depot Center (live on Fox Soccer Channel) is bigger than the MLS All-Star game featuring Manchester United a day later, said Coach Bruce Arena in my weekly column.
He’s right even if most soccer fans would disagree.
Of course, the Galaxy actually won this competition back in 2001 beating CD Olimpia 3-2 at the Coliseum when the tournament was known as the Champions Cup.
The goalscorers? Ezra Hedrickson had two and Cobi Jones the other.
Just for fun, here’s the Galaxy lineup: Kevin Hartman, Paul Caligiuri, Greg Vanney, Alexi Lalas, Ezra Hendrickson, Zak Ibsen, Simon Elliott, Pete Vagenas, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Adam Frye, Cobi Jones.
Adam Frye? Takes you back, doesn’t it?
The Galaxy also lost in the final of the Champions Cup to Cruz Azul in 1997.
Here’s more on the structure of the tournament courtesy of the Galaxy, which underlines the ultimate prize involved, even though it’s a long way off:
In 2008, CONCACAF changed the tournament’s format, adopting the current structure, which sees the eight teams which advance past the Preliminary Round join eight other teams that have been directly seeded into the Group Stage. Those 16 teams are divided into four groups of four that will play round robin style, giving each team a total of six games. After those games are played, the top two teams in each group will advance to the Champions League Quarterfinals, which will begin in March 2011. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals are all two-leg, aggregate goal series, with the finals being held in April 2011.
The winner of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League will then advance to the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in Japan in December of that year.
If the Galaxy advance past Puerto Rico, who qualified for the tournament by winning the 2010 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship, they will be placed into Group D along with Mexican champion Toluca, Honduran side CD Olimpia and the winner of the series between FAS of El Salvador and Xelaju of Guatemala.
I plan to blog from the game, so join me then for updates.