Carson City, California- Home Depot Center, April 3, 2013 (Photos: Victor Posadas)
The first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals began at the Home Depot Center where the Los Angeles Galaxy hosted Los Rayados de Monterrey. There was excitement both on the pitch and in the stands. The energy the supporters of both teams was palpable and everyone had a feeling that they were going to watch a great game between to superpowers from their respective league. The game began and Galaxy began to try to assert their dominance and take advantage of their home field. They were playing aggressively looking for any opportunity to open the score in their favor. Their first chance came in the 17th minute of the game. A.J. DeLaGarza passed the ball Robbie Keane. Keane then passed the ball to Mike Magee who shot the ball to the far post but Juan De Dios Ibarra, Monterrey’s goalkeeper, was there in time to dive and save the ball from going in.
L.A. Galaxy continued to be aggressive and attack to try to score. This paid off in the 33rd minute of play when they were able to open up the scoreboard. Keane had the ball and he crossed the ball. Magee received it and passed the ball to where DeLaGarza was able to hit the ball with the outside of his foot and score. This goal gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead.
Monterrey didn’t seem affected by the goal because they created their first opportunity to score in the 30th minute when after a failed corner kick, a Monterrey player received the ball at the corner of the box and shot across goal but missed wide. Minutes ticked on and Galaxy still had dominance of the game. Their second goal of the game almost came in the 42nd minute when Keane received a pass from Magee. Keane then floated the ball towards Sean Franklin where he tried kicking it but hit the ball over the crossbar.
The second half began just like the first half ended, with Galaxy dominating the game. In the 48th minute, Galaxy had a corner but it went straight toward the goalie. He tries hitting it out but the ball went straight towards a waiting Jose Villarreal. He shot towards goal but it went straight towards the goalie. After this play, Monterrey began to assert themselves. Their first substitution, Cesar “Chelito” Delgado, began to connect with his teammates and this only made Monterrey dangerous. They began to put pressure on Galaxy’s defense and forced L.A. to back their lines. In the 52nd minute, Monterrey had on of their more dangerous shot on goal. Delgado had the ball and passed it to Humberto “Chupete” Suazo. He had an open shot on goal but Carlos Cudicini was there to make the save with his legs.
Landon Donovan was subbed in, in the 60th minute of the game and this seemed to energize the Galaxy. Both teams began creating dangerous plays but none could score. Then in the 82nd minute Monterrey was able to tie the match. “Chelito” Delgado whom was being covered by Michel Stephens. “Chelito” cut Stephens twice and was able to cross the ball towards Aldo de Nigris. De Nigirs headed the ball but Cudicini was able to block the ball. The ball went around the small box and L.A. couldn’t kick the ball away from danger and allowed “Chupete” to kick the ball on goal. Cudicini blocked the ball again but “Chupete” followed his shot and was able to kick in the blocked shot giving Monterrey their first goal. “Chupete” Suazo’s goal tied the game 1-1.
Right before the game finished, Monterrey was able to score another goal. Jose Basanta passed the ball towards De Nigris. De Nigris covered the ball from Omar Gonzalez, controlled the ball with his thigh, and shot towards goal. Cudicini wasn’t able to block the shot and the ball ended in the back of the net giving Monterrey a 2-1 win over the Galaxy. This goal was the culmination of Monterrey’s pure domination of the last ten minutes of the game.
Galaxy had multiple chances to put the game away but were unable to do so and allowed Monterrey to win the game. The last 15 minutes of the game, Galaxy’s defence seemed tired and were out of position which allowed Monterrey to score their two goals. They will face Monterrey for the second leg of the semi-finals. The game will be played in Monterrey April 10th.