This may seem like a suicide mission for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy. But the trick here is to head into the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal against defending champions CF Monterrey with nothing to lose and everything to gain. The winner of this aggregate series will face either Santos Laguna or the Seattle Sounders for the right to go to the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco later this year.
Kickoff for the first leg is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by FOX Soccer. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for the Los Angeles Galaxy against CF Monterrey.
1. A full 90 minutes from Landon Donovan
The View from Avalon got it wrong the last time, but this time, the chances of Landon Donovan starting and finishing the first leg are much better. Los Angeles are coming off a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC and Donovan didn’t do much in that contest, but this time, it should be a little bit better for the perennial captain of the G’s.
2. Robbie Keane will also start for LA
In a series against an opponent of Los Rayados’ caliber, all the big guns have to get out there. Forward Robbie Keane suffered a calf injury in national team duty. The View from Avalon is confident that the injury will subside long enough for the Galaxy striker to start in the first leg. He will get at least an assist, but a goal may be too much to ask.
3. Monterrey will score first
Humberto Suazo has been the face of CF Monterrey for many years. In 175 appareance, El Chupete has scored 86 goals for Los Rayados. In the first half, Suazo will break open the scoring for Monterrey on a breakaway counter.
4. Here comes…Aldo de Nigris
Another player to watch out for on Monterrey is forward Aldo de Nigris. 35 goals in 95 league appearances thus far for de Nigris, who can shoot. Aldo will give Monterrey a second goal to give Los Rayados some breathing space in terms of away goals.
5. The hotstreak continues for Mike Magee
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Mike Magee has been on a tear in league play, with five goals in four league matches. When he finds space to shoot, the onus will be on Magee to pull one back for LA later in the first leg. Against an opponent of Monterrey’s caliber, the room for error is very small.
6. Jose Villareal impresses the giants
There is a possibility that midfielder Jose Villareal starts this match, if he doesn’t come in as a sub. When he does get on the pitch, he will score late, and with spectacular fashion to boot.
7. A tough night for Carlo Cudicini
This is going to be a rough night for Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who is guilty of consigning his own club to a draw with Toronto, although defender Leonardo is more to blame. Cudicini is going to make at least five saves because Omar Gonzalez and the Galaxy line are going to be stretched by this Monterrey attack.
8. Stat-padding for the defending title-holders
Monterrey is going to dominate a number of match statistics, the key one being: possession, attempts on goal, open play crosses, duels won, duels won percentage and shots on target. The Galaxy will keep the stats close, though.
9. At least 30 fouls and five cards
Given the track records of CONCACAF’s referees, the referees will do their part to steal the players’ collective thunder. At least 30 fouls will be whistled and at least five cards will be issued.
10. The match will end in a draw
The first leg between the Los Angeles Galaxy and CF Monterrey will end in a draw. However, Los Rayados will have the upper hand thanks to a couple of away goals from their top guns early in the match.
Los Angeles Galaxy 2, CF Monterrey 2