Monterrey ride second-half rally past Galaxy in CCL semifinal first leg

FUTBOL, MONTERREY VS SANTOS

BY OMAR SHAMOUT

CARSON, Calif. – For 45 minutes, the Los Angeles Galaxy had the look of a team more than capable of knocking off the two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League title holders.

Monterrey had other ideas, turning the second half of their semifinal first leg into a vivid reminder of why the Rayados have won the past two installments of this tournament.

Humberto Suazo reprised his role as CONCACAF goal machine, netting an 82nd-minute equalizer before Aldo DeNigris beat Omar Gonzalez on his way to scoring a stoppage-time winner that helped give Monterrey a 2-1 first-leg victory over the Galaxy at Home Depot Center on Wednesday.

The late-game collapse left a bitter taste among the Galaxy after a match they looked primed to win before Suazo and DeNigris pounced.

“We had our chances to win this game,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “A little but more experience and a little more quality and we win this game by a couple goals.”

The loss sets up the Galaxy with the extremely daunting task of having to beat Monterrey by multiple goals on the road in Mexico to reach the CONCACAF Champions League Final.

Monterrey really turned up the pressure in the second half, and the Galaxy ultimately couldn’t overcome the loss of midfielder Juninho. The Brazilian standout was enjoying a strong match in central midfield before suffering an ankle injury that forced him out of the match in the 60th minute. Without Juninho’s presence in the middle, and with Monterrey making several attacking subs, the visitors from Mexico slowly took over the match.

“For the first 75 minutes, we were really putting a lot of pressure on them and not letting them play out of the back,” Gonzalez said. “When (Juninho) came out of the game it was a little harder for us to push our lines. They were putting in good crosses.”

Juninho’s replacement, Michael Stephens, failed to prevent Monterrey substitute Cesar Delgado from whipping on a cross on the right flank in the 83rd minute, which striker Aldo de Nigris headed on goal. Cudicini’s save rebounded to Suazo, who knocked it home.

Just eight minutes later, DeNigris tapped in the winner in the 90th minute after he raced past Gonzalez, onto a headed pass from Luis Madrigal that he converted past Cudicini. Gonzalez got caught ball-watching on the play, and his late reaction allowed DeNigris the necessary space to deliver the winning goal.

Monterrey’s manager, Victor Manuel Vucetich, said the players were spurned on by the chance to three-peat as CONCACAF champions, though he admitted players will always feel some pressure when the  trophy is so close.

“It’s mostly a motivation,” Vucetich said, “to be able to try to achieve something that has not been achieved by any other team besides Monterrey.”

Early fouls bogged down the pace of the game in the opening 25 minutes, and both teams gave the ball away in key positions. Neri Cardozo was flagged offside twice on dangerous Monterrey counter attacks.

DeLaGarza opened the opened the scoring in the 28th minute, flicking the ball past goalkeeper Juan de Dios Ibarra. Keane played the ball to Magee on the left side of the penalty area, who lobbed a pass to an open DeLaGarza in front of goal––a much-needed contribution from an unlikely goal scorer

Suazo, who has two goals on the season so far, missed a golden chance to tie things up in the 52nd minute from eight yards out. But Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini came up with a big-time reaction save to preserve the lead.

Galaxy forward Landon Donovan made his first home appearance of the season following an extended vacation, coming in for Jose Villarreal in the 63rd minute. The home crowd gave him a rousing ovation as he jogged onto the pitch, but their spirits dampened not long after.

Not to be outdone by Cudicini’s earlier heroics, Ibarra robbed striker Robbie Keane of a goal in the 67th minute, blocking his point blank shot in front of goal.

Slowly, the absence of Juninho took its toll on the Galaxy in midfield, with Monterrey capitalizing on his absence. The Mexican side put intense pressure on L.A. in the final 20 minutes and it paid off with goals from Suazo and DeNigris.

The two teams meet again in Monterrey on Wednesday, and while the Galaxy will be heavy underdogs next week, there was a sense that the mission wasn’t an impossible one.

“Hopefully we can turn the good 70 minutes into a good 90 minutes,” Gonzalez said. “If that happens, I think we can do it.”

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117 Responses to Monterrey ride second-half rally past Galaxy in CCL semifinal first leg

  1. ChiTown says:

    Omar Gonzalez’ positioning is really poor. Clearly the best way to beat him is to just run straight at the goal. How many times is this kid going to let someone walk in? Blew the Honduras game. Blew tonight’s game.

    You should not be making mistakes of this calibre consistently at this level.

    • RB says:

      Just as I was saying the other day: we rush in to hail someone as the definitive answer or the new sure thing at some position for the MNT and before you know it, we’re bemoaning his failings and wondering who the next sure thing will be.

    • Asdf says:

      Well said Chi Town. No excuses for laziness/ ball watching at this level. Play like this will likely leave him stuck in MLS, albeit probably a bettet option than riding the pine in Europe.

    • 4now says:

      As much as I wish otherwise, were Gonzalez to ever go abroad, he would soon be found out. He has his moments but lacks consistency at a higher level.

    • Zax says:

      This tournament will rarely be interesting until MLS is financially somewhere near Liga MX in terms of spending on players. I think I will just hit the snooze button until then.

    • Shane says:

      Marcelo Balboa said Gonzalez makes too many basic defending mistakes and is not ready for the Nats, his mistake last night is yet another case in point. I was saying the same thing about Ream a year ago, but everyone kept singing his praises. Yes, he can distribute but he was regularly having defensive brain farts. Now he’s buried on the bench, and sometimes not even named to the bench, in England’s second division. So I hope Gonzalez stays in MLS will he will play and hopefully learn.

    • DC Josh says:

      He dominates the last two qualifiers and he is the next great hype. Then, he makes a mistake and is banned off the USMNT radar.

      Just like Jozy got no love when he had growing pains and then finally blossomed, give Omar time.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Mobility, dude. The way many defenders make up for getting caught like he did, is they move. I think he is a superior stick figure to Goodson but still a stick figure and thus prone to the same issues, like being run right by.

      If a team chooses to cross in his direction most nights they’ll lose. Like Mexico. But like Boswell or Goodson or Ream, if you go after him for foot speed, all he can do is play offsides trap, which IMO often leaves you out of position if they stay onsides or the call gets missed. I think that’s what happens on goal 2 is he’s trying to hold the line, and sometimes if that’s your purpose marking position gets lost.

      I’m for understanding the players as 3-d objects, Gonzo has pluses and minuses. My concern is I don’t see many? any? can’t miss Pope/Young Dolo/Young Boca types where the pluses way outweigh the minuses and 95% of nights they don’t make mistakes. Cameron is vulnerable, Gonzo is vulnerable, and along with Besler this is the current creme of the crop. Worrisome. One thing I think that has gotten lost in the apparent push for height and ball skill is basic defensive aptitude. It’s the last line of defense more than the first line of offense, if you want to win games…..

      • Kung Fu Kangaroos says:

        Even a young Boca had his not so good moments … like in the 2010 World Cup vs Ghana where he, for some reason, sends a dangerous ball to the center of our box to Gooch, that leads to a Ghana score and win. Clear the ball away from goal!

        • Dinho says:

          That wasn’t a very young Boca in 2010.

          • Strider257 says:

            It also wasn’t reallly a pass to Gooch. He just kicked the ball “straight up” and it ended up in the middle. Just a bad break from a random clearance attempt.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Peter Principle. We all top out at some level of competition, or against certain matchups or methods of attack. Ghana exposed a lot of people who were otherwise competent.

          My concern is — even if most aren’t Gooch allowing goals to Antigua — that we’ve come back to the regional pack on defense. In the post Lalas/Agoos era we’ve had athletic, mobile backs who were also in that 6′ neighborhood where they could make headers difficult, without sacrificing mobility. But to me a lot of the CB discussion these days is about people who remind me of Lalas and Goose in terms of cost-benefit. Where are the dominators?

  2. Dan says:

    LA was in shambles the last 30 minutes. Omar was walking. Franklin had his hands on his knees. Juhnino went down with a tooth ache? Arena made all the wrong subs. I almost threw my remote into a parallel universe. Keane let the team down tonight as captain unless you think missing easy opportunities and flailing about with your hands in the air is what a captain does.

    LA needs to strive for the next challenge. Not wining the CCL is simply unacceptable. Another MLS Cup? How about an MLS Cup, US Open Cup in CCL.

    We need to invest in some players. Donovan is a legend but he’s no Paul Scholes. His career is fading and that $ could go a long way.

  3. RB says:

    Mexico seems to be avenging its recent mediocrity in international play with these efforts at the club level…

    • AzTeXan says:

      Are you implying this isn’t just business as usual?

      • RB says:

        Well I was just noting the very different types of results on the 2 levels. And it did not surprise me that Seattle did not come away with any points last night, no.

        But does it seem like business as usual for the Galaxy to take a lead at home and then come away with nothing after coughing up 2 scores in the final 8 mins?

        • AzTeXan says:

          What I meant by business as usual is that the Mexican club beats the US club more often than not in the CCL. I guess it is different because these soul crushing, kick in the dic losses usually happen in Mexico.

        • Andrew says:

          It seems like business as usual this season. Just like the Chivas USA and Toronto games. Add to that the poor finishing from those two games and the Colorado game.

    • al says:

      who is the one that lost in honduras lol. mexico just started slow. U.S came to mexico to park the bus.

      • RB says:

        Now you’re just rationalizing…

      • Riggity says:

        Hush. Mexicans have no right to bring up results in Honduras when they are currently 5th in the HEX. How about you actually win a game and maybe we can chat…

        • Conrad says:

          Riggity, don’t pester that dog, he bites.
          Taunting Mexico for not having won a game yet? That’s not what you’d call a long-term option.

        • bob says:

          You’re dumb.

          Mexico has every right to bring up the Honduras result, the only reason Mexico didn’t win was because of the ref robbing them by giving Costly a penalty over a dive.

          5th in the Hex so what, one win and Mexico is in first place.

    • GW says:

      Suazo is Chilean and Herc Gomez is American.

      However, the USMNT is glad de Nigris’ was absent from Azteca

  4. Wess says:

    All that money they pay Robbie Keane and he cant tap in the ball. Yet another all Mexican CCL final, and another fail for MLS. It will continue till we raise our salary caps and bring in more better players.

    • AzTeXan says:

      Come guys, give LAG a break. At least they didn’t get knocked out by TFC like last year. Baby steps.

    • Dan says:

      Agreed. I don’t see these Mexican teams as dominant. They are just better than the competition in the same way LA is better than the rest of MLS. They are a bit deeper and have a couple more play makers at key positions. The fact that Michael Stephens is in our depth chart goes to prove this point. Monterrey brings in Mexican Internationals with 90 caps. We bring in Michael Stephens.

      • glou says:

        yup, agree with that. wasnt it stephens who let the cross in on monterreys first goal?

        • Soccerhorn says:

          It was. On the other hand, you have to realize Stevens was out there trying to defend in the corner because Dunivant was too gassed to come back and do it himself.

      • al says:

        liga mx participates in copa libertadores. we actually getting better. mls cant beat mx teams. not even mid table teams.

        • Neruda says:

          Sounders (a bottom of MLS table team) beat Tigres (top of MX table). So yes MLS can beat mid table MX teams and in fact can beat top MX teams. A simple google search would help you be less uninformed next time.

          • Chuck says:

            Tigres used a squad with mostly U20 players

            • MFP says:

              And Seattle were barely out of preseason. Everyone’s got excuses, but in the end the only way to judge is by who wins the games…

              • GW says:

                Mexican league teams spend three to five times on their squads what MLS teams do.

                So the first 11 is not so much the issue as the depth is.

                As long as that is true MLS teams will always struggle with Mexican teams.

                Bornstein never sees the field for Tigres, almost literally, but he is an automatic starter for most MLS teams.

                The only reason two MLS teams are in the semis is the Mexicans don’t take the competition as seriously as MLS does . The exception is Monterrey, with predictable results

                Nevertheless, this competition remains a vital measuring stick for MLS and it’s very encouraging to see these recent improvements.

            • Derrick says:

              The first leg tigres used their A squad lets not forget that

          • Neruda says:

            I was waiting for the b team excuse and someone a obliged. Btw Seattle was missing a lot of key starters against santos so the their are a lot of excuses to go around.

        • Kosh says:

          Dude if you’re being fair, until Juninho left that was a completely differnt game. I think Juninho left because he was hit in the face in the corner on what was a clear fowl but the ref was too busy just calling pushes and Gonzo set-piece moves all night. The ref NEVER gave LA a sniff on set plays in the box.

          Don’t be so insecure, Liga MX has the depth and talent on us right now and it showed when the subs were made. If you are being fair you would give LA and MLS teams some credit for the advancements they’ve made in such short time – pluas that was a pretty good game until the Juninho left.

          Not that we want your acceptance or validation but will acknowledge that the nature of your comments themselves validates that the compitition is getting there.

    • Dan says:

      I Keane’s defense the entire team looked bad all night. Monterrey was just somehow worse i the first half.

    • glou says:

      i think youre being a little hard on keane. i was at the game so i havent seen many replays of the play i assume youre talking about, but it seemed that he had to wait a split second for the pass from magee to arrive, and that gave the keeper just enough time to make the right move. my first thought was that it was more of a great save than a bad miss. if i recall, keane made the key pass that led to the goal, and had an identical pass that almost led to a second goal just before half.

      my beef is with donovan. it wldv been nice to have had him match-sharp and for the whole game. he has really let this club down.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I realize it’s tough to endure but conceptually I think we are erring on the side of solvency rather than regional supremacy, and given the example of NASL and MX clubs like Puebla, I don’t think it’s dumb. We are doing minor things like handing out winners’ allocations now, and the 3 DP slots, trying to give room to teams like LA. But I think parity and solvency are good for the league at this stage, and I’ll take that over regional glory.

      • Dimidri says:

        This x100. All things have tradeoffs, some outweigh others. This would be a nice thing to win, having fans across the country who aren’t resigned to their team having zero hope (a la all of Europe) is a great, great thing to grow the sport.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          I think we’re far enough removed from moving SJ1 to Houston, and folding Miami and TB, where people talking regional power grab or pro/rel don’t consider the history, in NASL or MLS.

          And in terms of Europe people don’t necessarily talk about the disappeared teams like OldRangers or Gretna, the repeat bankrupts like Pompey, Malaga not paying taxes despite a new owner, etc. Even teams like ManU have heavy debt loads, and some like Arsenal and the Reds aren’t doing as well since they were sold in leveraged buyouts.

          The irony of the “we need to spend more” arguments is that UEFA is emulating American restraint with its new fair play rules, which at least theoretically are designed to hold back teams from mindlessly spending to success. But even then Europe has not addressed the Big Club problem that some teams simply have bigger stadia, more revenues, etc. Even under fair play UEFA is content as long as the balance sheet is sustainable, even if it means you can spend twice as much as a neighbor, who may have a good coach and a drilled team and even fiscal probity, but who simply competes on a smaller budget which means the best they are hoping for is upsets, a cup run for a bit, and Europa.

  5. al says:

    mls sucks. Mexico will always be daddy and u.s would always have to look up at the giant Mexico.

    • glou says:

      will always be? mls is already pushing the mexican teams, and mls is only 16 years old! rsl was very unlucky last year and they arent even 10. the gap has closed quickly.

    • Neruda says:

      You can make hyperbolic comments but the difference is small because after all Seattle Sounders FC did beat UANL. And UANL is the best team in Mexico. In other words one of MLS’s worse teams (so far) beat Liga MX’s best team in a two game series.

      The gap will close all the way eventually between the two leagues. But for now a league with bigger team budgets, longer history and unimpeded attention for fans is still a little stronger. Still the US is doing pretty good for a country that rates the sport of soccer as number four or five on the priority list.

      National team wise so far it’s a tie this year between US and Mexico with one more game to go between them. I like the US chances in Columbus OH.

      • Chuck says:

        god, UNAL was using a C team and they were dominating the game until the ref decided to give away the team to the Sounders with that red card, stop being deluded.

        • Derrick says:

          Tigres used an A squad in the first leg

        • bob says:

          I agree Chuck that was a really stupid comment. “seattle sounderz beat tigers da best team in mexico aww yeahh” what a joke!

          It was Tigres reserves and they were owning Sounders until the red card. Sounders would never beat the Tigres first team.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I also think if you look at Seattle’s attendance, which builds to the financial bottom line, over time the gap is narrowing. You can say the same thing with a lot of the elite leagues, since 1996, that we’re catching up. It’s agonizingly slow, but we’ve also only lost 2 teams in 17 years.

    • Kosh says:

      Me smells a lot of insecuirt behind that bold declaration. If your’re that good you don’t have to say such things is the way I look at it.

  6. JAV says:

    Never underestimate a MLS team’s ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

  7. el paso tx wants nasl says:

    the recipe to beat mexican teams is for MLS to let teams get 4 to 5 dps, raise salary cap , free agency and that would make benefit mls league play, us open cup and especially champions play. for us the fans is not rocket science but for garber it is and he believes in parity, how cute of him. while ligamx teams have DPs on their bench and on the field, sad but true. picture ronaldinho, donovan,keane, kaka, lampard as your 5dps in galaxy if mls could get 5 dps or seattle with drogba,martins, forlan, pato, sneijder. its possible but mls loves to dream and hold the league. I can also picture a big number of top south americans in mls if only mls, got their stuff together.

    • AzTeXan says:

      I forget, can the league just raise the number of DPs anytime or do they have to wait for the next CBA? They can just change it right? Either way, I’m satisfied with slow growth. If MLS grows too fast in a bubble and it pops, then they become the NASL 2.0.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I think we could leverage LA and Seattle by doing as we suggest but then there would be a risk of losing fans from other teams with less wherewithal. The question is do we want to leverage particular teams’ success — which might get us regional success and on the world stage — or do we want 20-team solvency, at the detriment of moving faster up in the region.

      I don’t think MLS fans in places like Columbus or Dallas are going to put up with permanent doormat status, and I think people are naive about the consequences of the Big Club systems in Europe. Most teams start the season knowing they gave no real chance to win domestically. Most years the same handful of teams go into Europe from each country.

      • Nathan says:

        Right, we could do stuff to allow the Galaxy and other to be more successful on the international stage. And most likely watch the “doormat” teams go under. Which would leave no league for the Galaxy and the few other haves to compete in. Which would make it very hard to compete anywhere. I personally think the MLS is right to be conservative on growth and expansion of salaries.

    • Gary Page says:

      Thi8s is argued all the time. MLS chose a safe and conservative business model that is leading to slow, but steady improvement and growth. Meanwhile, in Europe, many first division teams are financially in dire straits (Malaga, in the CL is one prime example). MLS needs to raise its salary cap. For many teams, their first eleven is very competitive with any other team in North America. It’s often the lack of depth that is the problem. With the increase in TV money and the new stadiums, the league needs to about double its cap and maybe adding one extra DP would do it. The gap between MLS and MX is getting pretty small; MLS does these things and it may disappear.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        The problem with the cap and DP theories is that only certain teams tiptoe into 1 DP, much less 3. I think we all know those rules were intended, as it already is, to let LA and NY spend more, and chase relatively expensive talent compared to everyone else, and more than one player at a time to boot. As it is LA has already won back to back, and arguably because their talent level is a notch or two above everyone else, when healthy. LA already gets winners’ allocations to soak up cap that old winners would have had to figure in, maybe do cap trades like the rest.

        So we do all that and LA still is not quite there. You’re already creating a mini-dynasty and not solving the regional power gap. I don’t know if I want to encourage that along much more. As it is, it’s a tiered arrangement where we claim the rules are equal in some French sense because even the rich are banned from living under bridges, and it’s still not enough…..I think the general principle should be an equal cap and parity to promote the sport as well as we can in as many cities at a time as possible, and LA is already getting a big exception and winning the league regularly with it….how much more uneven do we make it?

        Further irony, Arena has been pretty masterful in what he’s done in the circumstances considering Gullit couldn’t win as easily, if the best coach/GM in the league can’t leverage it, maybe we have a decent gap to bridge still. Maybe it’s not the time to add a million cap and a DP just for the heck of it.

  8. KungFuSoccer says:

    Was at the game and haven’t watched the highlights — thoughts from my point of view:

    Juninho and Sarvas ruled the midfield. Once Juninho went off, the game changed completely.
    I used to really like Stephens– it seemed like he had energy and poise. However, he is always a step down now– He’s simply not as good, and not good enough fort the galaxy.

    At half time the Galaxy looked exhausted walking off the field. It looked like trouble.

    I don’t know much about goal keeping, but aside from Cudicini’s bad decision making in other games, it seems like his distribution is terrible — can I get someone who knows something about goalkeeping to give me an opinion on this.

    The goal against the galaxy were across the stadium from me, so I couldn’t tell who was at fault. But you could see them coming before they happened. LA was tired and slow, the ref was giving all the calls to Monterey, and LA was playing defense instead of offense.

    Ugh: finally — wouldn’t it have made sense to put Landon in the midfield to control the game, instead of up top. I have always been an advocate of Landon up top because he is so dangerous, but only when our midfield is solid.

    • KungFuSoccer says:

      pardon my typos: “for” not “fort” and “goals against the galaxy” not “goal”

    • scott47a says:

      The reality of MLS v. LIga MX is in players like Stephens, or Seattle’s Sammy Ochoa. Seattle loses EJ and Oba and Estrada to injuory and has to play Ochoa, resulting in zero chance of scoring a goal.
      LA loses Juninho to injury or whatever it was and has to go to Stephens, resulting in the loss of control of midfield plaly.
      These guys just simply aren’t good enough to compete at the level of Liga MX. I don’t even think it’s disrespectful to them to say that. I know they work hard and are trying. But it is what it is. Squad depth is just not possible when you are paying players 12-25 between $40k and $50k.
      Best MLS can hope for is to catch lightning in a bottle one year and shock CCL with an upset.

      • Flacotex says:

        This. MLS needs better players through the first 18 of the roster. Maybe in 5-10 years that will happen.

      • Josh D says:

        That’s not true at all. Mexican teams are better coached, simple as that. Every year in the PL, La Liga, etc, we see weak teams winning against the giants. Every tournament in Europe has their minnow who upsets a big team. After all these years, statistically speaking, MLS teams should do better with the amount of games we’ve played against Mexico. Yet time and time again, we lose. Tactics, tactics, tactics. Bruce doesn’t know how to kill a game off in tournament play.

        MLS coaches have no idea how to coach against a Mexican team. You can’t blame depth forever.

  9. Lil' Zeke says:

    What a bunch of sad sacks you are! I recommend NOT declaring things unacceptable that you’re just going to have to accept. Bad luck for the Galaxy today with two key figures not 100%

    • AzTeXan says:

      Agreed, it is what it is. It’s not like the Galaxy had a really good player that big timed his team and took off an extra two months and would have made a difference. They tried their best and there’s nothing they could have done differently to change the outcome of that game.

    • Skippy says:

      I find your comment totally unacceptable.

  10. Brian says:

    Lack of depth…plain and simple. It’s a salary cap issue.

    Look at the gameday rosters in each of LAG’s games (CCL & league) this season and you see that all their money is generally on the field. The bench is mostly 1st & 2nd year players or homegrown kids….with the exception of Michael Stephens & Hector Jimenez. Bruce can get away with this in MLS because he is better than most MLS GMs & coaches at identifying serviceable MLS caliber talent. But that doesn’t work against Mexican teams.

    I’m firm believer that MLS’s growth strategy is the right one but the salary cap should be higher than $2.95M by now even with the exceptions for DPs, GAs, etc.

    • Elber Galarga says:

      Lack of quality depth. Lack of coaching as someone pointed out. MLS coaches can coach well against MLS competition but always struggle against international opponents (I.e. Mexico).

      Hate to say it, but MX >> MLS. Need proof look at head to head record.

      As an MLS fanboy, yes Seattle was lucky to get by Tigres mostly U20 team.

    • K says:

      there’s actually no need for a salary cap other than to create an NFL style parity league, which no one wants except for maybe a handful of MLS fanboys.

      replace the salary cap with financial fair play and in a few years MLS sides will be bossing the CCL.

      And before someone says “getting rid of the salary cap would mean LAG or NYRB will win every year and then the rest of the league would fold” That’s nonsense. MLS playoffs are the great equalizer. You wouldn’t have the same teams winning the MLS cup everywhere.

      there’s a reason that there are around 80 soccer leagues on the planet and only 2 of them have salary caps.

  11. RJ says:

    I agree that the gap between MLS and MX clubs is due to player spending because the MLS clubs don’t have the necessary depth on their rosters to compete. However, I doubt Garber will raise the salary cap or increase the number of DP’s in the near future. Despite his stated goal of having MLS teams be competitive in the CCL, the thing he wants to avoid above all else is having the MLS become a league of haves and have-nots because fans in the have-not markets will lose interest in their local clubs. His plan it to slowly build a sustainable following in all his markets that will generate revenue through TV contracts that can then be used to increase the salary cap across the board. This plan gets short-circuited if fans in half the markets stop caring. It took the MLS 20 years to get to this point…I am afraid it may take another 20 for MLS clubs to be able to consistently compete with League MX teams.

    • quozzel says:

      I don’t think it will take 20 years. I do see the salary cap bumping up to $4-$5 million over the next couple years as TV deals increase – they’re going to, the younger generation is all about soccer and they’re growing up – and we’re also in a “down” year in terms of cycle…the year before the World Cup is always the doldrums for US soccer in terms of interest, in World Cup years it sparks. A bunch.

      The other thing is, there’s a bunch of players who probably would have come to the USA as DP’s if National Team appearances were not an issue. Kaka wants to come but he’s looking for a Brazilian call-up and he’s not going to get one playing for the Galaxy or New York Red Bulls, whereas if he stays in Europe he probably will. Ditto for Frank Lampard, who would be with the Galaxy already…but if he sticks with Chelsea he gets that England call-up and gets one last shot at the dance. After the World Cup, I think you’re going to see just a whole bunch of European-based players far more willing to make the jump across the pond…especially since by then New York will have that second MLS franchise and will certainly be in the market for big-name DP’s. Which means even more attention for MLS…and maybe, finally, a much bigger TV deal, which is the real impediment to growth for the league.

      MLS’s time is coming, it just ain’t…quite…yet. But when I look at LA, I definitely see the future of MLS – homegrown Academy guys like Villareal (last generation) and Landon Donovan (early generation USSF), mixed with high-end DP’s like Robbie Keane and more moderately-priced South American products like Sarvas, Leonardo and Juninho, leavened with a healthy dosed of US college products – Gonzalez, De LaGarza, Magee, with some intriguing budget-friendly Euro free agents like Cudicini thrown in. That LA Galaxy team is right there with Mexico’s best…and is it really far off a bottom-end EPL team? I didn’t see it. Teams like Sporting KC, RSL, FC Dallas, and Houston have built very strong squads in entirely different fashions but while they lack headliners the quality is assuredly getting there.

      • Jeff says:

        As an El Tri fan, I actually agree that MLS is doing a few things right. The league would benefit from having a bit more exposure through participation in tournaments like the Libertadores. That is one factor that has helped change South American and European perceptions of the league as a whole. Before it was in a similar place as MLS, attracting players whose best days were over. Now Liga MX is seen by South American players as a good spring board to get to Europe. Just see the examples of Jackson Martinez who is now tearing it up at Porto. The teams were also smart to target players who were starters in their national teams. Many players in the 2010 Paraguayan, Chilean and Ecuadorian squads played on Mexican teams. That turns heads. It’s not just about results, but about knowing who to bring in at both ends of the age spectrum.

        • Jeff says:

          I meant that Liga MX has benefited from participating in tournaments like Libertadores.

  12. ed - houston says:

    I liked what i was watching but went to bed. Bummer it turned out 2-1. I did not see a prob with turnout, i thought crowd was good. Sucks but its not looking good for both Seatle and LA. The games still have to be played. Seatle fans can still feel good about Tigres’ elimination, while, as a Dynamo fan, i feel good about our home win over Santos in leg one (though we played like crap in leg 2 and deserved to be eliminated). The CCL is just a matter of time for MLS but it has to be like a Cinderella run -due to salary cap.

  13. G.Bean says:

    There’s a reason why Chupete Suazo, and De Nigris play in Monterrey instead of a beautiful metropolis like LA, or NY. $$

    • BigChompers says:

      Evidently Suazo is Mexico’s highest paid player at 3 mil/year. Isn’t that about what Keane is making? Don’t get me wrong, I think Keane is a great striker… but I’ve always wondered why MLS teams haven’t been able to lure top MX league players? We MLS fans have gotten well acquainted with many of them over the years during these CCL games and it seems like they always live up to their name and salary.

      I can still see Christian Jimenez, then with Pachuca, almost single handedly dismantling Houston Dynamo a few years back.

      • glou says:

        i dont follow the mexican league so i dont know who the top strikers are, but hasnt mls tried this route? i think back to luis hernandez, hermosillo, and even more recently omar bravo.

      • Jeff says:

        In my opinion a big part of it has to do with exposure and the improved perception that South American soccer federations and many European teams have of the Mexican league. Suazo was able to remain a starter for Chile even though other Chilean forwards play in Europe. The same goes for other players on the Colombian, Paraguayan and Ecuadorean national squad. Other than Central American teams, Mexico and Canada (not knocking them, just trying to put this issue in a global context of people’s perceptions of “quality”), how many MLS foreigners were starters for their squads at a Euro, Copa America or World Cup? That’s tied to how others perceive the competition level of the league and the league’s ability to attract top talent, young or old (Beckham aside).

  14. assocfoot says:

    I would take Omar over either of the Monterrey CB’s in spite of the late game lapse – and I think last night’s game shows both how good he can be and what he still can do better, and how important this level of game is for him (and others in MLS) to continue to improve.

    Agree with the comments on lack of depth, but I also agree this is simply reality for now and it will be a few more years before even the best teams in MLS can have the roster depth of the top half of Liga MX teams. This won’t only be more DP’s and a higher cap, it will also be more HG signings that have an impact, which is only starting to happen. You could patch together a starting 11 of HG players from the whole league, but it would only be shaky, and it would be very young. More Villareal’s, Hamid’s, Yedlin’s etc will be needed and some (Najar) will leave to pursue the dream of Europe even when the cap is higher so this will take time. There are a number of things MLS can and should do besides the cap to make it more straightforward to build a deeper roster (get rid of silly allocation rules, re-entry drafts, etc), but I want to go to MLS 30th, 40th and 50th anniversary games so I have no issue with the progressive approach on cap and DP’s. The risk of NASL 2.0 is too high.

    The thing that struck me about last night’s game was how evenly matched the teams were before the bench came into play, despite Keane having a mostly poor game. I haven’t written off LAG for the second leg – it will be tough but I would be shocked if LD doesn’t start. To me, he changed the dynamic of the game in LA’s favor, until Juninho came off.

    • frnak says:

      Hiram Mier will be a stud in Europe within the next 2 years. I do rate Gonzo but do not agree with your statement. Even though Monterey is struggling in Liga MX they are friggin stacked at every position except for goalie. Just look at the team.

      RB – Meza – Mexico international
      RB – Osorio – Mexico international for 10 years (aging and week link in defence)
      CB – Basanta – Captain and great player
      CB – Mier – starter for Mexican Olympic winning team and future star
      LB – Darwin Chavez – starter for Mexican Olympic winning team
      MF- Ayovi – great midfielder from Colombia
      MF – Zavala – Mexico international that started against US
      MF – Cardozo – ex Boca Junior star – very good player
      F – Suazo – highest paid player in Liga MX and goal scoring machine (should be in Europe)
      F – Aldo De Nigris – Mexico international

      then they bring on
      F – Chelito Delgado – ex League 1 star
      F – Jesus Corona – future Mexican Star (best U20 Mexican prospect)
      F – Madrigal – another highly regarded future Mexican Star

      • Jeff says:

        And Basanta was recently called up to the Argentine national squad, so that’s not bad at all.

  15. shorembo says:

    As a caveat, I watch soccer intermittantly, usually USMT and some MLS games (including CCL).

    Two comments…
    1. LA had bad luck. They played the better game for most of the match. But such is life. They knew Monterrey was going to come on strong in the final 10 minutes.
    2. I swear it looked like LA would crush the USMT. The passing was crisp… they pushed upfield, took chances…controlled the ball. I know it is a different game but, comparing what I saw yesterday to what I saw at Azteca depresses me…regardless of the outcome.

  16. Josh D says:

    “A little but more experience and a little more quality and we win this game by a couple goals.”

    Yawn. Come on Bruce. Every team could say that. He was out coached and couldn’t kill the game off. Donovan was needed in the midfield to control the game. Bruce went for the second goal and watched it backfire. Learn how to park the bus like every other team in the world.

  17. Vic says:

    I’ve been saying this for years and the problem doesn’t seem to change. One or two skillful players can make a big difference in possession. That’s what happened when Juninho came out. MLS coaches don’t seem to realize this. Mexican teams have great technical ability and if you give them too much space they will destroy you. Sigi Schmid made the same mistake thinking that Brad Evans, Alex Caskey and Zach Scott would do better than Rosales/Zakuani/Hurtado. Arena didn’t have many technical options on the bench when Juninho came out. Best bet in that scenario would be bringing on Donovan and keeping Villareal on. Stephens was the right move from a positional standpoint. However, when you give up possession things become very difficult.

    • GW says:

      Vic,

      ” when Juninho came out. MLS coaches don’t seem to realize this.”

      So Vic I see now you are smarter than Arena? Well Juninho was forced out. I’m sure if it was up to Arena, Juninho would have stayed on.

  18. Gnarls says:

    From my perspective in the stands, LA controlled the play during the first half and for half of the second half. It wasn’t until Juninho left and Stephens entered that things went south.

    Also, Carlo Cudicini is a shite goalkeeper. For a veteran, he makes way too many rookie mistakes.

    • MB says:

      You must have missed those multiple huge saves he made to keep Monterrey scoreless until the last 10 minutes. Oh, and the initial save he made to almost keep out their first goal. But why acknowledge the good play of a goalkeeper, and the poor play of the midfield and defense in the last 10 minutes, when you can just blame Cudicini for every goal that goes in the back of the net?

      • Gnarls says:

        Why, indeed? I will acknowledge he made some good saves. Good job, Carlo. The fact remains, Cudicini has made some very questionable decisions in the few games he’s played. His positioning and distribution just make me scratch my head.

        Our midfield was solid until Juninho went off. As I said before, the loss of Juni had a huge negative impact. Mikey Stephens just isn’t as good. Our defense also went to sleep.

        I’ve got plenty of criticism to go around.

  19. Turd Bradley says:

    OMAR WTF? way too much instagraming

    • Dinho says:

      This made me laugh.

      Forget about your hair, OG, and stop ball-watching. That was unacceptable.

  20. Gary Page says:

    Pardon my bluntness, but a lot of comments here are reacting to the moment and are not putting things in context and are uninformed. I have followed the Galaxy since their inception and probably have seen 90% of their games. I doubt anyone was more disappointed than I at the result. Those bashing Omar G. have probably only seen him in the USMNT games and a few MLS games. He has been defensive player of the year for a reason. That last goal shouldn’t have happened as it was a lapse in concentration at a crucial time, but that doesn’t mean he is lacking in quality. To my eyes, he is better than before his injury and he was the MVP of the MLS championship last November. As I addressed above, the lack of depth often is crucial in games between Mexican and MLS teams. It certainly had a role in this one. Before the game I predicted a 1-1 score since Donovan was not up to full game quality, so I was only a bit wrong. People seem to forget that Monterrey is an excellent team, have won the last two championships and will probably win the third. Beating them was always going to be difficult. However, the gap between the teams is very narrow; it used to be huge. Someone wrote it will take another 20 years to achieve parity with Mexican teams. That is utter nonsense. It could come as soon as 2 or 3, certainly within 5 years. Within the last year MLS has probably made more quality signings than in any previous 5 year period and MLS has an advantage over League MX. Most Europeans would prefer to live in the US than in Mexico. The super majority of Mexican team players come from Mexico and Latin America. MLS is drawing players from around the world. Eventually that will redound to the MLS’s favor. Oh, and for those bashing Bruce Arena, he took the USMNT deeper into the WC than any other USMNT coach, and as far as any Mexican coach has taken Mexico, so to think you as a poster know more about tactics than Mr. Arena is ridiculous.

    • Dinho says:

      Gary, I agree that OG has been mostly solid for the Galaxy, but he simply cannot have those lapses if he wants to continue to get better. I’m not a basher. I’m a Galaxy fan. I’m just calling it how I see it. He is not exempt from criticism simply because he’s performed well in the past.

      And, of course Bruce is a better tactician than I ever will be, but I wouldn’t be a true fan if I wasn’t critical of decisions he makes. I truly believe that McBean may have been a better sub that Landon at that point in the game. That may sound strange, but no one was holding the ball up to relieve the pressure that the Galaxy was sustaining for the last 30 minutes. Yes, much of it had to do with losing Juninho, but I still think Landon was the wrong sub to bring on.

      Just my two cents. Don’t take it so personally.

    • Gnarls says:

      Omar is still the best CB in America. He had a bad night. Just blows because it was the one night the Gs really needed everyone playing at their best. It was just a catastrophic meltdown all around.

      • Dinho says:

        I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, Gnarls. It does blow. He had a bad night, period. Not sure if the Galaxy can rebound from it…. we’ll see.

  21. telboy says:

    I think last night has a lot to do with where the Galaxy are at right now. Poor finishing which has
    actually been a problem for a while now and more recent defensive lapses ( see Chivas USA &
    TFC ) but they were certainly out of gas at the end of the game which could have something to do
    with it being early in the season.