Categorized | MLS, MLS Match Reports

Galaxy defeat Alajuelense, Tops in CCL Group Play

Posted on 26 August 2011 by iyeo

Playing its first two matches in CONCACAF Champions League group play at home, the Los Angeles Galaxy looked for the three points in both matches.

Mission Accomplished.

Playing in what is considered to be the toughest of the four groups of the tournament, the Galaxy look to be in a very good position to advance out of Group A after its latest 2-0 win, this one over Costa Rican superpower LD Alajuelense 2-0 at the Home Depot Center on Thursday night.

“Not an easy game,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “A good opponent, a different kind of game. Overall, we’re real pleased with the win.”

The Galaxy’s two goals were scored by center back Omar Gonzalez in the first half and substitute forward Chad Barrett in the second half. The win puts the Galaxy solely atop Group A with six points as the group’s lone unbeaten team while Alajuelense now shares second place with Monarcas Morelia, who routed CD Motagua 4-0.

“We came into the Galaxy’s side of the field with a lot of energy,” Alajuelense head coach Oscar Ramirez said. “We had a lot of ball positioning and we took it to them.”

The Galaxy had a flurry of chances, but it wasn’t until the 38th minute that LA finally found the back netting. It occurred in the 38th minute when the Galaxy won a corner on the left side, David Beckham’s corner ball found Omar Gonzalez’s head, and his attempt beat keeper Ivan Garcia far post to put Los Angeles in front early.

Not that that was LA’s only opportunity to break the scoring ice. The Galaxy were active two minutes in when Robbie Keane laid a ball for Landon Donovan, who quickly touched it to AJ DeLaGarza in the penalty area. DeLaGarza however chose to lay it back for Juninho, but he could not connect on the long range attempt. The Galaxy had another chance nine minutes later when Keane crossed a ball near the end line to Adam Cristman, but his header glanced off the crossbar and was collected by Garcia.

Despite not having their best player Jonathan McDonald for the match, LA Alajuelense was pretty active inside LA’s half of the field, but had trouble staying onside throughout the match. Alajuelense was caught ahead of LA’s back four too soon four times in the first half and the trend continued with four more offside calls in the second half. No offside call hurt Alajuelense more than in the 64th minute when Allen Guevara crossed a ball into the penalty area and Kevin Sancho’s volley beat Josh Saunders back post for what looked to be the equalizer, only to see the flag go up once more.

“We were lacking a little bit in definition, especially in the final third of the field,” Ramirez said.

The Galaxy eventually made Alajuelense pay for its lack of patience in its final third the 78th minute. The play began when Beckham quickly sent a free kick forward to Sean Franklin inside the 18. Franklin then whipped a quick cross to Chad Barrett, who had entered as a substitute six minutes earlier, and with Keane also running into the 18, Garcia was drawn out, leaving the left post area open and Barrett easily buried the open chance near post. Despite the win, LA came out the mach somewhat scarred, as Juninho was red-carded in the 88th minute for what looked to be a typical 50-50 challenge inside the penalty area, meaning Juninho will miss the Galaxy’s next CONCACAF Champions League match against Morelia on September 13.

“I think the referee missed that,” Arena said regarding the red card.

The Galaxy got some good news prior to the match, as Sunday’s matchup with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena was postponed until October 4 due to the onset of Hurricane Irene onto the east coast. The postponement meant that Bruce Arena went all out for Thursday’s match, starting most of the regulars save right back Sean Franklin. Even then, LA could not avoid the injury bug, as center back Gregg Berhalter pulled up lame on his left ankle and was subbed out in the 27th minute in favor of Franklin.

“I just felt a pop in my foot,” Berhalter said. “We’ll get it checked.”

The re-scheduling of the Red Bulls match apparently meant some extended time for forward Robbie Keane. Keane played 90 minutes on Thursday night before exiting before stoppage time. Keane will also have some unexpected extra time to head to Ireland to prepare for Ireland’s two European Championship qualifiers next weekend.

“It was nice to get 90 minutes tonight,” Keane said. “It’s been a long week for me. It was nice to get two games in, but the most important thing to do was win.”

The sudden time off means the Galaxy sans Keane and Landon Donovan, both of whom will be on national team duty for Ireland and the United States respectively, will have 10 days off between now and its mext match, which will be a Labor Day showdown between them and Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park on September 5.

LA Galaxy 2, LD Alajuelense 0
CONCACAF Champions League; Group A
August 25, 2011; Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary
LA – Omar Gonzalez (David Beckham) 38
LA – Chad Barrett (Sean Franklin, David Beckham) 78
Misconduct Summary
LA – David Beckham; 31
LDA – Jhonny Acosta; 62
LA – Landon Donovan; 68
LA – Mike Magee; 77
LA – Juninho (Red Card Ejection); 88

LD Alajuelense – Ivan Garcia, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Jose Salvatierra, Marcelo Fazzio, Alejandro Alpizar (Carlos Clark 75), Pablo Antonio, Christopher Meneses, Allen Guevara, Kevin Sancho (Cristian Oviedo 84), Jhonny Acosta, Juan Guzman (Cristian Lagos 82).

Substitutes not used: Esteban Carrillo, Elias Palma, Minor Diaz, Jorge Davis.

Los Angeles Galaxy – Josh Saunders, AJ DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter (Sean Franklin 27), Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee, Adam Cristman (Chad Barrett 71), Robbie Keane (Chris Birchall 90).

Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Frankie Hejduk, Miguel Lopez, Michael Stephens.

Referee: Marco Rodriguez
Assistants: Jose Luis Cmargo, Alberto Morin
Fourth Official: Mauricio Morales
Attendance: 9,855

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