It’s time for some good-old fashioned CONCACAF Champions League football.
This week, it’s the first leg of the quarterfinals of the confederation’s most prestigious club competition between Claudio Jara’s Club Sport Herediano of Heredia, Costa Rica and Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy of Los Angeles, Calif., USA via the suburb of Carson. The match is scheduled for Thursday, Mar. 7 at 8,144-seat Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer.
The Galaxy are hoping that they will not suffer a quarterfinal pratfall against El Team like they did against Los Torontonianos-er, Toronto FC, last year. Will it deja blue all over again for the G’s? Or can they move forward this time around? Time for the View from Avalon to make some guesses in these 10 Bold Predictions.
1. Bruce Arena sends the house on Herediano
With the stakes being as high as they are, and the next two weeks focused on performing well in regional play, Arena will be wise to field his best side against El Team, who, on paper, are essentially another MLS-level side. A sample lineup and formation is shown below.
1 Carlo Cuducini
2 Todd Dunivant —- 20 A.J. DeLaGarza —- 4 Omar Gonzalez —- 22 Leonardo
5 Sean Franklin —- 8 Marcelo Sarvas —- 19 Juninho —- 26 Michael Stephens
7 Robbie Keane —- 18 Mike Magee
2. Mike Magee Magic Show, Take Two
Mike Magee was on a tear early, scoring a hat trick against the Chicago Fire on Sunday and should be raring for some more goalscoring against against Herediano. Magee’s goal will come in the first half of play.
3. Under four saves from Carlo Cudicini
Carlo Cudicini will not have to do a lot of saves this Thursday against El Team, but he will need to be smarter with his distribution. Still, in spite of expected improvements in distributions, Cudi won’t be making a lot of saves. The View from Avalon predicts under four saves from Carlo Cudicini.
4. Robbie Keane with the touch
Robbie Keane was on goal late in the second half but should get more chances to show what he can do. Now he will have to be a little bit smarter in terms of trying to win challenges. After all, this is CONCACAF we’re talking about. Keane will get another second-half goal, this time against Herediano.
5. Juninho with a big game
Juninho had a good outing against the Chicago Fire and will look to do more of the same. Against Herediano, it’s all a matter of positioning the set pieces to the right shirts and adding the expectations of a good finish. Juni gets a goal and an assist in the first and second halves, respectively.
6. Omar is coming!
Omar Gonzalez has been working on receiving the deliveries from players like Juninho and should be on the scoring end of a cross or corner late in the second half. Aside from that, look for at least six clearances and recoveries each from Gonzalez at the minimum.
7. Yendrick Ruiz pulls one back for Herediano
With six goals to his credit, Yendrick Ruiz is Herediano’s leading goalscorer and is tied for the most by any team in the Costa Rican Primera Division. Ruiz should equalize the contest in the first half of play.
8. At least five saves from Leonel Moreira
Leonel Moreira is Herediano’s star goalkeeper and will be put the work the same way Sean Johnson was for the Fire. At least five saves will be made by Moreira as the backline of Pablo Salazar, Cristian Montero and Waylon Francis struggle with the pace of the Galaxy.
9. Under four cards and over 24 fouls
This will be a physical battle in Central America, and the Galaxy will need to give it everything they got in a hostile environment as Heredia, Costa Rica. Under four cards will be issued but over 24 fouls will be whistled.
10. Los Angeles Galaxy with advantage
In a free-flowing first leg of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals, the Los Angeles Galaxy will have a comfortable advantage heading into the second leg.
Los Angeles Galaxy 4, Club Sport Herediano 1