Well, this shouldn’t have surprised a lot of people. Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy knew that they were facing an uphill battle against Victor Vucinich’s Club de Futbol Monterrey, but they weren’t able to get the job done and fell, 1-0 in the second leg of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League semifinals at the Estadio Tecnologico in Monterrey, Mexico.
Apr 10, 2013; Monterrey, MEXICO; Los Angeles Galaxy player Todd Dunivant goes up for a header with Monterrey player Iram Mier during the match at Estadio Tecnologico. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Sierra/EFE via USA TODAY Sports
Here are six things we learned from Wednesday’s night’s match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and CF Monterrey.
1. A tense first half with bad finishing from LA
Early on in the first half, Monterrey was applying the presssure, deflecting the counterattack from the Galaxy. The first several minutes were a test of ball possession. Neri Cardozo had a chance in the seventh minute to break the game open but Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was there to smother it. Michael Stephens had his opportunity a minute later but sailed it wide right. Leonardo’s header in the 16th minute was high and over the crossbar. Another chance for the Brazilian in the 21st minute sailed wide left. Aldo De Nigris nearly broke it open in the 27th minute, but missed wide left, as did Humberto Suazo in the 34th minute of play. De Nigris had another opportunity in the 43rd minute which was collected.
One would have to assume that the defenders would make LA pay for their bad finishing in the first half at some point in the contest. However, that was not the case, and the first half ended in a scoreless draw.
2. A statistically even first half of play
Both teams won a number of key match statistics at the end of the first half. Monterrey dominated in open play crosses (10 to seven), passing accuracy (80 percent to 75 percent) and possession (52.3 percent to 47.7 percent). As for the Galaxy, they led on attempts on goal (seven to four), shots on target (four to zero), duels won (19 to 18), duels won percentage (51 percent to 47 percent) and corner kicks (five to two). For Monterrey to book their date with Santos, Los Rayados had to make some adjustments in the attack.
3. Los Rayados leave it late…again
In the second half, Monterrey were piling up the corners and dominating possession, as with the first half. The sheer athleticism and technical skill of teams like Monterrey make them a fun side to watch. In the 70th minute, A.J. DeLaGarza took away a big oppportunity for Los Rayados to put the match out of reach. Anoher chance for Monterrey’s Cesar Delgado just missed in the 73rd minute. Suazo’s net opportunity in the 80th minute was a sitter that sailed high.
But with Arena electing to go three in the back for LA, Monterrey had a chance to take advantage. In the 81st minute, De Nigris put the aggregate effectively out of reach for the visitors. After that goal, it was smooth sailing for Monterrey.
Apr 10, 2013; Monterrey, MEXICO; Los Angeles Galaxy players pose for a photo before the match against Monterrey at Estadio Tecnologico. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Sierra/EFE via USA TODAY Sports
4. Monterrey finish on top in the stats, too
At the end of the second leg, Monterrey won a number of key match stats, including attempts on goal (13 to eight), open play crosses (18 to 17), passing accuracy (81 percent to 73 percent) and possession (52.4 percent to 47.6 percent). Despite winning the duels via Omar Gonzalez, the gulf in talent between both teams contributed to the eventual aggregate scoreline.
5. It’s Santos-Monterrey all over again
The most important thing we all learned from this match is that it will be Santos Laguna vs. Monterrey for a spot in Morocco. In last year’s final, Monterrey won the aggregate series 3-2. The first leg at Estadio Tecnologico on Apr. 18 last year saw Suazo secure a brace in the 60th and 86th minutes to give Los Rayados a 2-0 victory. The second leg saw Santos Laguna prevail 2-1 at the Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico. Despite goals from Daniel Luduena in the third minute of first-half injury time and Oribe Peralta in the 51st minute, Cardozo’s 82nd-minute strike secured Monterrey’s second straight CCL title.
6. The schedule will not get any easier for LA
Clearly the Galaxy are coming into April on a cold streak, with two straight defeats to open up the month. It will not get any easier for Los Angeles, who have FC Dallas this Saturday, Sporting Kansas City on Apr. 20 and Real Salt Lake on the road on Apr. 27. If these last two results are any indication, the Galaxy could be regressing to their sorry form from the first third of last season.