Galaxy in must-win mode ahead of CCL match against Morelia

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Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com


By ADAM SERRANO

CARSON, Calif.— The Los Angeles Galaxy have played in a number of big matches this season, but all are dwarfed when compared to Wednesday's match against Monarcas Morelia in the CONCACAF Champions League. 

With a victory over Morelia at the Home Depot Center (10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel) the Galaxy would join the Mexican club and Alajuelense with nine points in a top-heavy Group A (Alajuelense could pull ahead on Thursdsay). L.A. would then need to follow that up with a victory over last-place and point-less Club Motagua in Honduras on Oct. 20 to advance to the knockout stage. A tie or loss on Wednesday would necessitate nothing short of a miracle in order for the Galaxy to advance to the quarterfinals.  

After dropping the last two matches in group play and moving from first place to third, the Galaxy understand that they will be playing for their tournament lives. 

"We feel like we deserved better out of the two road games, and we want to make sure that we make amends for some poor play in the last game and some misfortune in the last few games," said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. "This is a must-win. There's no question that we have to win if we want to advance, so we're going to put everything into it."

Morelia arrives in Los Angeles in the midst of a great run of form. On Sunday, Monarcas dropped a league match on the road to Toluca, their first loss since falling to Alajuelense on Aug. 16. Led by dynamic Ecaudorian winger Joao Rojas as well as Mexican forwards Miguel Sabah and Rafael Marquez Lugo, Morelia was 7-0-1 in all competitions prior to the Toluca loss.

Los Angeles has not forgotten about the last time that these two teams faced off two weeks ago at the Estadio Morelos. In what was a highly competitive affair, Morelia scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to defeat the Galaxy, 2-1. However, it was not the Galaxy's collapse that earned headlines, but a stoppage-time goal by Robbie Keane that was ruled offside by Honduran linesman Oscar Velasquez. Following the match, replays showed that Keane was nearly three yards onside at the time of the call. 

"Using a word that we were cheated is too strong a word, but we were robbed of points there," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "By anyone's imagination, that was very strange and it's been a strange tournament in terms of officiating for us, but we're still in position to play on, so we're going to give it our best shot."

Officiating has been a major cause for concern for the Galaxy during their four previous games in the Champions League. Whether it was Juninho's dubious red card against Alajuelense or a delayed yellow card to David Beckham last week that led to his suspension for the upcoming Morelia match, officiating questions have often eclipsed the game of late for Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, the task of officiating will fall to Salvadorian referee Joel Aguilar, who served as the referee for the 2011 Gold Cup Final. Aguilar will bring an all-Salvadorian crew for the match, a move that could bring some comfort to Arena, who has criticized CONCACAF for their refereeing assignments earlier in the tournament.

"They assigned a Honduran and a Mexican crew in a group where we have a Honduran or a Mexican team. That's Assignment 101 that they failed miserably," Arena said. "That kind of stuff they got to get right. There are bad calls and unlucky calls everywhere, that shouldn't surprise us, but some of the stuff at the administrative level could be better. Having said that, I expect to win this game and be alive for Game 6. We're going to put it all past us."

The Galaxy will need to put the officiating past them as they have a number of question marks heading into the match. Already without Beckham due to suspension, Keane (right gluteus tightness) and Chris Birchall (left hamstring strain) remain day-to-day and were not present for training on Tuesday.  

Should Keane and Birchall be unavailable, it is likely that Arena will turn to Chad Barrett and Paolo Cardozo, who both logged heavy minutes in Costa Rica last week. Although several key players may be absent, the Galaxy are ready to give it their all in a match vital for their continental ambitions. 

"This is an elimination game," Donovan said. "If we lose the game, then we're done, and fortunately this group has been through a number of games in the last few years, so that experience will help. We have guys that have played in games like that so we're going to get after it."

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Mexican Soccer, MLS- LA Galaxy. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Galaxy in must-win mode ahead of CCL match against Morelia

  1. Mike Bassett says:

    Let’s Go Galaxy!!

    If you are a Galaxy fan, do your best to get to the stadium.

    You can get a general admission ticket for $10 on the Angel City Brigade website:

    link to angelcitybrigade.net

    Also, there is free parking!

    This is a big game!

  2. soccerhorn says:

    One thing not mentioned here is that Galaxy may well be playing an away game in their own stadium tonight. Mexican clubs always send a heavy presence to any game at the Home Depot Center. If Galaxy fans no-show, it might be a tough night for Donovan and Co.

  3. Charles says:

    Mexico versus US in soccer is leading the discussion for the best rivalry in all of sports. First the national team, now the professional teams.

    IF you can buy a ticket to this game for $10 and free parking and don’t do it…..

    …..You are either VERY busy or a complete moron.

    Just my $0.02 worth. Go Sounders.

  4. Benny Dargle says:

    Worse is that the seating capacity is limited to 7000 for this game because of the use agreement with Cal State Dominguez Hills (where the HDC is located). Once school is in session, mid-week games are subject to attendance restrictions. Only one half of the lower bowl of the stands will have any spectators at all.

  5. Turd Ferguson says:

    ACB and LARS, do us proud!

    And Galaxians, you’re still weird.

  6. cajun says:

    “They assigned a Honduran and a Mexican crew in a group where we have a Honduran or a Mexican team. That’s Assignment 101 that they failed miserably,” Arena said.

    Really Bruce? Seattle had a Mexican crew last night vs Comunicaciones and they’re in the same group as Monterrey. So what’s your point?
    Bad refereeing is bad refereeing, accusations of bias require proof.

    All that said, I hope the Galaxy win!

  7. Carl says:

    “…accusations of bias require proof.”

    Proof? You mean like decisions that take away legitimate goals? Or how else exactly would you prove bias? Maybe if the referee comes out after the game and says “I’m so happy because the team that I preferred to win has won, yay!” Seriously.

  8. Luis F says:

    People fail to recognize how much those Central American countries hate each other. They also fail to recognize that the ref may not be a fan of that particular team, even if he is from that same country. I’d be hard-pressed to believe that an official who roots for Portland would be biased to award calls to Seattle, just because the opponent is from Mexico. Bad calls are simply that, bad calls.

    People have been crying conspiracy for as long as I can remember when it comes to CONCACAF games, whether they are WC Qualifiers or CCL games. The truth is simple – the refs are bad in this region. To give them credit for intentionally dictating the outcome of a match to favor their home-team squad is being too generous.

  9. Javier says:

    So would it do any good for the Galaxy to appeal to FIFA about the goal that was on side and called offside against Morelia in Mexico? I’m from Honduras and I can’t stand the officiating of the Central American and Mexican refs whenever an American team plays. It’s always seemed biased against the American teams.

    Also with all the diving and time wasting these teams do I don’t think I’ve ever seen a yellow card given for the theatrics which have no place on the field.

    How about bringing in European refs for these matches. I can’t believe with the millions of dollars in MLS and the pull of USSF an appeal can’t be made to FIFA. Even if the Galaxy loose the appeal of Keane’s goal, they should be able to win on bringing European refs to officiate CCL games.

    Call it what you want, but what do you call it when Latin American refs are biased against American teams. It’s the same thing. It needs to change and maybe the only way to change it is to have FIFA get involved.

  10. Chav Bollocks says:

    There’s this, and there’s the Jewish holiday tonight which has an impact in a place like LA

    I’ll try to get to the HDC for at least part of the 2nd half after a cameo at the family gathering, but it’s just unfortunate that the Galaxy got the Wednesday night game this week

    I know of quite a few Galaxy fans who if they can’t make every game, come to every “big” game, who were at the Alajuelense game, who can’t make it tonight for this exact reason

  11. dcpohl says:

    Might be a blessing in disguise for LA.

  12. hogatroge says:

    Comunicaciones is a Guatemalan side.

    The point is, the referees should not have a vested nationalistic interest in either team.

  13. hogatroge says:

    If the refs are simply so bad, why have all of the mystery denied goals (3 or 4 at this point) all been against MLS sides?

  14. Luis F says:

    I haven’t watched enough CCL games to tell you the answer to that, and I can’t tell you whether there have been similarly terrible calls in games that either (1) were not televised/I didn’t watch, or (2) happened in games between non-MLS teams.

    One thing is for sure – Central American refs call the game in a manner that doesn’t favor the way US teams play. But I’m not sure about claiming outright cheating. They’re just terrible, awful, really bad refs.

  15. Dan says:

    An Honduran giving excuses, very unusual.

  16. WorldCitizen says:

    Proving bias by most Latino refs against U.S. teams requires only two things: (1) Working eyes, and (2) A half-decent memory. Their track record speaks for itself, and I have every confidence that even if you look at the actual relevant match statistics, you’ll find a disturbing pattern of more fouls, more cards, more disallowed goals, more “blown” offside calls, etc. that “accidentally” happen to go against American teams when facing Hispanic opposition. It’s a poorly kept secret that huge numbers of Latinos loathe (sadly, with some justification) the “pinche gringos” over centuries of meddling in their sovereign affairs, too. Combine that with simple cultural/racial solidarity, and you’ve got a pretty strong case for a compelling motive here as well. Sure, it’s fair to assert that CONCACAF refs are just plain poor, too, but any reasonable person should easily be able to see that’s only a small part of the problem where U.S. teams are concerned.

  17. T says:

    Yeah the gringos always messing witho ur stuff.

  18. Am I bothered though? says:

    I blame DeRo, Canada sucks.

  19. No clue says:

    Really? Aren’t Morelia the Wigan of Mexican Soccer?

  20. Dan says:

    They took our jobs!