Galaxy ready to face two-time champions league winners Monterrey
CARSON, CALIFORNIA (BDCi) — There is no denying the sense of anticipation for Wednesday’s first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal between the two-time defending MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy and two-time defending Champions League winner Monterrey.
Galaxy players have been talking about the impending matchup for weeks. Major League Soccer thought enough of the importance of it to reschedule the Galaxy’s weekend MLS game against the Montreal Impact to mid-October. A similar switch was made for Seattle Sounders who face Santos Laguna in the other semifinal.
At this stage, players just want to get the game started.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” said Landon Donovan, who ended his almost four-month sabbatical from the game in last week’s 2-2 draw against Toronto FC.”The reality for us is we’re four games away from being in the club world championship (in December in Morocco). We take this very seriously. You never know when this chance comes again.”
The Galaxy are facing a Monterrey side that has won the last two CCL titles and finished an impressive third in last year’s FIFA Club World Cup (behind Brazil’s Corinthians and England’s Chelsea) in Japan. They feature highly regarded forwards Humberto Suazo (his nine assists lead Liga MX) and Mexican national team member Aldo de Nigris, the team’s top scorer with six goals so far in the league.
There also are defender Severo Meza and midfielder Jesus Zavala, both of whom are veterans of Mexico’s national team. Monterrey, however, will be without starting goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, who recently suffered a torn muscle in the back of his right thigh during training and is expected to be out a month. He will be replaced by 34-year-old Juan de Dios Ibarra.
“It’s a great test for us,” said goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, a veteran of the Champions League in Europe. “We know we have a big challenge in front of us, but we are up for it.”
The Galaxy are expected to welcome back forward Robbie Keane, who missed Saturday’s game in Toronto with a calf injury but returned to training earlier this week. The Galaxy have a win and a loss against Mexican opposition, losing 2-1 away to Morelia and beating them by the same score at home in the Group Stage of the 2011-2012 Champions League. This is the first time the Galaxy have advanced to this stage of the competition, which took its current format in 2008. The Galaxy did win what was then called the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2000.
The second leg of the semifinal series will be held on Wednesday April 10 at Monterrey’s Estadio Tecnologico.
“We think we match up well with them,” Donovan said of Monterrey. “I think they are going to be two really good games and we think we have enough to get by. Now it’s on us to put it on the field.”