Wednesday Kicks: Club Tijuana plays for spot in CONCACAF Champions League final tonight & more

Assorted news and nuggets:

  • The Xolos play Cruz Azul at 5 o’clock tonight (live on Fox Sports 1) up a goal from last week’s first leg with a place in the CONCACAF Champions league final against Toluca at stake.
  • Independent promoters of soccer games have had a spotty history at best in Southern California, but the Galaxy have joined forces with one to stage the 2014 Legends Cup featuring retired Mexican and U.S. players at 4 p.m. June 1 at StubHub Center. Participating players include Paco Palencia, Luis Hernandez, Alberto Garcia Aspe, Jorge Campos, Paul Caligiuri, Eric Wynalda, Brian Ching, and John O’Brien.
  • Next for MLS: Atlanta
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Club Tijuana — Southern California’s team — in CONCACAF Champions League action tonight

xoloslogoSo that’s a bit of an overstatement.

But with all the MLS clubs eliminated from the tournament, a Liga MX team with a raft of Americans on their roster who are watched regularly by thousands of U.S.-based fans who cross the border are the closest thing we’ve got to a local club still in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Club Tijuana plays Cruz Azul at 7 o’clock tonight on Fox Sports 2, and on Univision Deportes (Fox Soccer Plus shows the game on delay at 9 p.m..).

Alajuelense-Toluca is on Galavision at 5 p.m., BTW.

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CONCACAF Champions League Video Highlights: LA Galaxy go to the dogs in Tijuana against Xolos

The Galaxy’s failure to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League Wednesday in Tijuana was magnified by the manner of the 4-2 aggregate loss: LA conceded two goals inside nine minutes and a third inside the opening half hour.

That quick 3-1 turnaround from a 1-0 lead going into the game meant the Galaxy were never likely to overcome such a deadly opening salvo against class opposition even if on paper the away goals rule meant progression in the tournament was as tantalizingly close as just one more goal.

In practice however that was never likely with Club Tijuana clearly superior to the Galaxy on their familiar fake field before zealous fans even if Galaxy coach Bruce Arena sounded unwilling to publicly proclaim how much better the hosts were than the MLS outfit.

“It wasn’t our intention to make this game entertaining but it certainly became an entertaining game — our first half play was awful right from the start,” Arena said. “We didn’t win a tackle, our backline was very poor. Let’s be fair, we weren’t good. How good they were I don’t know. They were certainly better than we were.”

Landon Donovan was far more honest about just how shocked the Galaxy were at the opening turn of events that blew their game plan out of the water right away:

“It’s hard to explain,” he said of what occurred. “I don’t know what happened to be honest. We seemed ready, we seemed prepared and we spoke about how we wanted to approach the game, but then one ball bounce around in the box and we weren’t alert, then the next thing you know, we were down a goal. Then we didn’t pay well and we’re okay for a minutes, but they got the second goal and it became more and more difficult. It took us till halftime to recuperate and get ourselves going again. We gave it a good effort, but it wasn’t enough.”

Perhaps Robbie Keane summed it up best: the Galaxy were simply DOA, quickly letting down the sizable contingent of traveling fans:

“The game was over in the first 10 minutes,” keane said. “It’s as simple as that. We started off slow and when you concede a goal in the space of 57 seconds, you can’t start away from home like that especially in a game like this and go on and expect that everything is going to be okay.”

No, you can’t.

Next up for the Galaxy: Real Salt Lake Saturday in Utah.

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CONCACAF Champions League Preview: LA Galaxy at Xolos tonight in Tijuana

So it was a soft goal for Tijuana to concede and a lucky one for the Galaxy to score, but the Galaxy have a slim one-goal cushion after last week’s first leg win in Carson as American clubs look to best their Mexican counterparts this weekend in the oft-overlooked CONCACAF Champions League.

I take a look at the U.S. chances in this week’s column.

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LA Galaxy face Club Tijuana tonight in Carson in CONCACAF Champions League

Former Galaxy striker Alan Gordon of Long Beach rose for a late, trademark header Tuesday as the San Jose Earthquakes tied Mexico’s Toluca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.

That was San Jose’s first competitive game of 2014 and now the Galaxy will face Mexican opposition  — Club Tijuana — in just their second game of the season.

Can you imagine if major European clubs such as Barcelona and Manchester City — who meet at 12:30 p.m. today in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash on Fox Sports 1 — were asked to do the same thing?

For more, read this week’s column and see what passes for trash talking in CONCACAF here.


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Weekly Soccer Column: LA Galaxy-Club Tijuana CONCACAF Champions League Preview and more

So, it was pretty mild, but did the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez just diss U.S. Men’s National Team teammate Herculez Gomez in the above video?

The San Jose Earthquakes play tonight in the CCL, while the Galaxy’s encounter with Club Tijuana in Carson Wednesday is the subject of today’s column, which also looks at who Chivas USA defender Bobby Burling dedicated his winning goal to Sunday in the 3-2 defeat of the Chicago Fire.
More on all the CONCACAF Champions League games is here.

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Real Salt Lake win over Chivas USA forces LA Galaxy to shift focus in MLS

Chivas USA’s 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake Wednesday night that denied the Galaxy a chance to finish first in the Western Conference has put LA in the odd spot of cheering for their regional rivals for the second consecutive game this coming weekend as the MLS season concludes.

A win or a tie by Chivas USA in Carson Saturday against the second place Portland Timbers combined with a Galaxy victory over the Sounders in Seattle Sunday would give LA second place in the division. That’s because Portland and the Galaxy would be tied on points (with a Timbers win), but the positional tie breaker is total wins, not goal difference and LA would have two more wins than the Timbers.

The question, of course, is whether Chivas USA will show up on what is fan appreciation night. And, by the way, who will show up for Seattle, too, given that the club is showing signs of buckling under the pressure heaped upon them by fans and the considerable investment of their ownership group.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy are in Central America preparing for tonight’s group finale in the CONCACAF Champions League with their continued participation in the tournament already assured.

Despite coach Bruce Arena’s protestations earlier in the week about the timing of the game, the contest might actually help the Galaxy’s MLS playoff cause in one respect by giving returning defender A.J. DeLaGarza valuable minutes before the playoffs begin, while keeping suspended midfielder Juninho fresh for much the same reason.

Finally, Galaxy fans should take a moment to click on the following link to give former defender Chris Albright his fair due as he bids farewell to the game.

Albright was always a quiet locker room leader who knew how to set an example on and off the field. Quite simply one of the classiest and most articulate spokesman for the sport I have ever had the pleasure to interview, I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of him in a coaching or some other capacity in MLS.

Cheers, Chris.



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Three in 30 secures LA Galaxy Champions League win

The CONCACAF Champions League labors in relative obscurity with scant respect.

On some game days it’s overshadowed by its more illustrious relative across the pond.

American fans, and the domestic soccer establishment for that matter, haven’t quite embraced the largely inferior regional international rivalries that prompt coaches like Bruce Arena of the Galaxy to field reserves and youngsters for what often amounts to a midweek distraction.

And even television has relegated the product to a minor channel (in the case of last night’s game, Fox Soccer Plus, which apparently hasn’t folded even if older brother Fox Soccer itself has).

But if you haven’t watched the highlights of last night’s game yet, check them out above.

Three goals in 30 minutes allowed the Galaxy to imperiously swat their opponents away while qualifying for the next stage of the competition with ease.

The first two goals came encouragingly from youngsters Jack McBean and Chandler Hoffman, while reserve veteran Laurent Courtois provided the highlight reel goal of the evening with a lovely strike.

And it was all over within the first half hour of the game.


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