Artificial surfaces are part of the business of playing in tournaments like the CONCACAF Champions League. Club Tijuana is an example of a stadium with a surface that opponents are having a challenge playing in. After all, world beaters Corinthians couldn’t score on the surface at Estadio Caliente in the Copa Libertadores and lost, 1-0, earlier this week.
Robbie Keane’s frustrations are warranted after Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy were held to a scoreless draw against Club Sport Herediano at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia, Costa Rica. With the draw, the Galaxy need to win next Wednesday at the Home Depot Center to advance. Any other result is unacceptable.
As for Keane, he doesn’t usually like playing in these types of bouncy surfaces, and it did affect his play, and in turn, his player rating. Take a look at the Opta Chalkboard. Distribution-wise, Keane managed a 70 percent pass success rate to go with four layoffs, a key pass, a through ball, a successful flick-on and four unsuccessful crosses. He also had two shots off target and one that was blocked.
Defensively, Keane only had one recovery, and in terms of ball possession, he had two successful dribbles and lost possession on the challenge 18 times. Keano’s crosses were swallowed up by a competent Herediano back line that includes Cristian Montero, Marvin Obando, Pablo Salazar and Waylon Francis, who may be the best-performing of all the Herediano defenders.
Let’s be clear here: these matches against the Galaxy are also an opportunity for a lot of these players from El Team to take the next step that a certain Marcelo Sarvas did and compete in Major League Soccer. Don’t be surprised if the stocks of players like Francis improve and draw attention from scouts.
But let’s go back to Keane. This was not a good performance from Robbie and as I said before, the playing surface of El Rosabal affected his play. He was still able to be dangerous in spite of the conditions, but fans can expect a more consistent performance in the second leg next Wednesday.
And that is going to be necessary because if Los Angeles don’t get the W, it’s deja vu all over again. Remember Toronto FC last year? I knew you would. If not, well…good on you then.