Samuel’s goal, Penedo’s saves, earn Galaxy first-leg triumph vs. Club Tijuana

Jaime Penedo


CARSON, Calif.– Judging by crowd noise, it seemed at kickoff that it was Club Tijuana, not the Los Angeles Galaxy, that enjoyed the home field advantage in this first leg of Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match.

The Galaxy changed that in the 11th minute when a Marcelo Sarvas long ball fooled the Xolos back line and sprung Robbie Keane loose in the penalty area.  Keane failed attempt to control the ball with his chest quickly turned into a fortunate pass as  an onrushing Samuel raced in and slammed the ball home from the penalty spot to give the Galaxy a surprise early lead.

Jaime Penedo helped that goal stand up as the Galaxy held on to a 1-0 victory at Stub Hub Center, setting up what should be a tightly-contested second leg in Tijuana on Tuesday.

“Winning at home is important.  Getting a clean sheet is very important,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said after the match. “We’re not in a great position, but we’re in a good position for the match on Tuesday.”

The match was a fairly even match that saw the Galaxy get the better of the play in the first half while Club Tijuana took control in the second half. The Xolos showed quality from the opening whistle, moving the ball well up the flanks.  The Galaxy were content to stay compact, and the strategy worked, as the Xolos struggled to connect the final pass and test Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo.  All three Club Tijuana first-half shots came from distance, and went well wide of the mark.

At the other end of the field, the Galaxy buzzed around, and produced the same flurry of chances Real Salt Lake witnessed in the MLS season opener four nights previous.   Landon Donovan was lively and pressured the Tijuana back line with a pair of runs into the box, one of which forced a corner, the second of which opened space for Marcelo Sarvas to attempt a shot from distance that he skied into the seats.

In the 41st minute, a bad turnover by Tijuana defender Juan Carlos Nuñez gave the ball to Keane, who had a momentary free look at goal but couldn’t get his shot off.  Two minutes later it was Keane again, this time winding around Tijuana’s left side to attempt a cheeky chip on Cirilo Saucedo.  The shot cleared the keeper’s mitts but dropped just behind the crossbar on top of the net.

The second half saw a different Tijuana side.  The Xolos applied increasing pressure on the Galaxy goal, but were undone by a series of offside calls, as well as some spectacular play from LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.  Twice Penedo made impressive saves, only to see the shots waved off for offside.  But in the 57th minute Penedo came up big again and kept Tijuana off the score sheet with a spectacular leaping save to push a deflected Cristian Pellerano laser over the cross bar.

The biggest gasp inducing moment of the night came in the 62nd minute when substitute Dario Benedetto whipped in a cross from the right corner.  The ball deflected off Leonardo, spun wildly, and crossed up Penedo, who attempted to bat the ball out rather than catch it.  The ball dropped onto Omar Gonzalez’ foot; Gonzalez tapped the ball back only to see that Penedo was off his line.  Penedo raced back into his own net to clear the ball off the line and preserve his clean sheet.

“I saw Omar’s face, it was pretty comical,” said Penedo after the match.  “I have to admit, I can’t calculate how the ball is going to bounce…it’s just reaction that I’m able to be there.”

Penedo was not the only Galaxy player with a game-saving save on the night.  Moments later Javier Gandolfi’s header in the box found it’s way past Penedo, only to find Sarvas parked on the goal frame for a clearance from his knees.

Herculez Gomez came off the bench in the second half, and quickly began putting pressure on the Galaxy defense, but he never could add to his impressive goal-scoring totals in CONCACAF Champions League play.  His sharp low header in the 85th missed wide, and it would be the final shot the Xolos mounted on the night.

“I’m by no means happy with the result,” Gomez said after the match. “I think the mental lapses killed us.”

The evening also featured a solid performance from American midfielder Joe Corona, who has made the most of returning to full health by flashing the skills that made him a U.S. Men’s National Team regular a year ago.

The Galaxy are all too familiar with taking a lead into Mexico and coming home empty-handed, as they did in last year’s Champions League semi-final.  Now the Galaxy will head to Tijuana with a one-goal cushion, which may not be enough against a Xolos team known for being much stronger at home.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, Mexican Soccer, MLS- LA Galaxy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Samuel’s goal, Penedo’s saves, earn Galaxy first-leg triumph vs. Club Tijuana

  1. Ian says:

    Good night for my Gs and good night for MLS in CCL. Every team could have used another goal going to Mexico, but 2 wins and a draw vs. Mexican opposition might be unprecedented.

    • Hogatroge says:

      Ask Houston last year how well taking a 1-0 lead to Torreon worked out. Ask them how much they missed the 2nd goal on a platter that they flubbed 5 min from full time. And that was a match where the Dynamo (albeit benefiting from their narrow pitch) had the Lions share of chances and a slight upper hand in a close game. What’s more, Torreon didn’t even have altitude issues (it’s only a little over 3000ft). That said, altitude shouldn’t be too much of an issue in TJ.

      Don’t get me wrong though, I’m pulling for all the MLS teams.

      • Ian says:

        Cool, man. Both teams should have capitulated and given up 3 goals each. That way you have kept your expectations low…

        No SBI reader is so dense to believe a 1-0 lead is worth anything more than it is in Mexico. It’s a relatively small advantage, but keeping a shutout matters, and both teams did that.

        • Ian says:

          …you could* have…

        • Hogatroge says:

          No need to be a jerk about things. Fact is, a 1 goal advantage has historically not been nearly enough for MLS squads going to Mexico in the CCL knockout rounds, shutout or not.

          On another note, it was nice to see you put in the effort to correct the typo on your unnecessarily obnoxious reply.

    • Alex H says:

      Was Gonzo carrying an knock? He looked a bit labored out there in the 2nd half and toward the end of the game was grabbing his knee.

  2. bryan says:

    wow, LA pretty much dominated the first half but Corona looked very sharp for TJ. in the second half, LA started off well. but from the 50th until Corona was subbed out, it was all TJ. i’m not sure why Corona came out, once he did, TJ lost their rythmn. he looked great.

    biggest disappointment was Zardes. he was pretty awful and Garza shut him down all night. so much so Bruce moved him over to LM. he still stunk it up though. he needs to step it up.

    glad to see LA win, but these 1-0 wins and 1-1 draws at home aren’t going to be enough. hope i’m wrong.

    • bryan says:

      also, i hope Garza is ok. was limping for awhile there.

      • Rory Miller says:

        I hope Garza is just fine… after next weeks matches.

        Nothing more ‘Merican than celebrating a Brazilian scoring on a Mexican team to prove America’s worth! Go America!

        But seriously, I laughed my butt off when the ref wasn’t buying Herc Gomez’s flop as he tried to get past two Galaxy defenders on the edge of the box. I was rooting for a yellow card but the look of shock on his face that he didn’t get the call was good enough.

    • brian I says:

      I disagree about Zardes, he might not have been great going forward but he worked his butt off tracking back and making runs. You won’t always have your “A” game but you can still help the team.

      • Grubbsbl says:

        Agree about Zardes. He worked hard all match defensively and was a willing runner to stretch the field when LA needed it. What let’s him down is his decision making, sometimes he looks to dribble when turning back and keeping the ball would be best. But he is young, looks hungry and at a good club, no doubt he can turn into a quality player.

        • bryan says:

          Yes, he did some good defensive work but he did not help his team wth the number of balls he lost. Garza constantly stopped him. He had a few times when he beat his defender but for the most part he couldn’t get anything going offensively.

          I’m not questioning his hunger or his age and ability. Simply saying in this game he didn’t have the impact you would have hoped for.

      • bottlcaps says:

        Generally, the Galaxy. I thought, looked weak offensively. Zardes I can single out for loosing the ball a majority of the time he had it in his possession. However, considering it is only the second non pre-season game the Galaxy have played, coming away with the win against a very good team like the Xolos is a good sign. The Galaxy will have to pull their act together to get a result in TJ. The offense will have to be a bit sharper to take the pressure off the defense. The Galaxy have a disadvantage of never playing at the Caliente field, but the Xolos familiarity with the Stub Hub center, didn’t get them any points.

        • bryan says:

          Agree the offense in the 2nd half was pretty poor all around. But Keane, LD, and Samuel looked good in the first half and were the only ones causing problems in the second.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy LA won and I’m a TJ fan (live in SD). But TJ has had issues all year on the road. Would have liked to see LA get out with a two goal advantage. Estadio Caliente isn’t going to be an easy place to hold into a 1-0 lead.

          • beachbum says:

            hmmmm, Keane doesn’t look good to me at all. I was there, and he’s limping around still, no quickness which is a big part of his game. e has not recovered fully from the offseason surgeries imo. Having struggled with Achilles injuries to both legs myself I can understand thi process will tae while for him, hopefully no too long

  3. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    Someday the rest of MLS is going to catch up to KC and Seattle. How can you let a ticket like this get away to a TJ fan ?
    Hope the guys that missed it enjoyed the Seinfeld rerun…because I was wishing I was at the game, while watching a silent Galavision….enjoyed every second of it.

    2nd thought….Penedo can play. Wonder id he can carry the D when OG is gone.

    • IndyElevenFan says:

      From the sound of it last night, there was enough Cruz Azul supporters there to at least end up listening to their crappy “burro” chant every time there was a stupid goal kick. Ugh. I think we should hang signs during the CCL that says you can’t yell that phrase for it distracts from the “family environment” or whatever lame excuse you want to. Otherwise their fans were quiet in KC.

      • Paul6 says:

        I believe the word that they yell is “Puto.” It’s definitely annoying but i think I also think it’s cool thing they have going in all of mexico not just with Cruz Azul

        • Gerard D. says:

          You think that’s cool?

          Puto means f*ggot.

          There is nothing cool about that.

          • Ian says:

            I friggin’ hate hearing that word. Not just because it’s a huge insult, but it makes the fans sound like unenlightened barbarians.

            • David M says:

              Which they are.

              • Ian says:

                Pretty much. It’s hard for me to comprehend.

              • Maykol says:

                They are barbarians because they like to have a more wild carefree culture? They are trying to intimidate the other team. Do you honestly think that they believe the other players are f*ggots? Its just for intimidation and fun banter in their eyes. In mexico even a mother will call her 4 year old child puto among plenty of other obsceneties. Dont call them barbarians just because you are too sensitive for foul language in sports and others peoples culture

              • Ian says:

                “P*to” isn’t just a foul word. The F word is just a foul word. “P*to” is epithet aimed at a person’s sexual identity. It cuts to the core. It’s on the same level as the N word or any racial epithet.

                Just because Mexican fans don’t take the time to think about the meaning of a word, it does not make the word any less impactful. Words have meaning, plain and simple. It’s up to the speak to take two seconds to think critically about his actions; it’s not hard.

              • Maykol says:

                Ok just in case you fellas didnt know puto is not a direct translation to f*ggot. People use it to say b**** and f**** in bad situations. And all of latin america says it so i take it you belive they are all barbarians? And they will never stop because its their culture and they do not care at all if they are hurting peoples feelings while trying to have fun during a game

            • Jimmy Bobo says:

              They are unenlightened barbarians. Why should we have one set of behavioral standards for our fans and another for theirs? I thought “puto” actually meant “man-whore” and not necessarily a f*ggot.

              • Ian says:

                We shouldn’t. Should be the same across the board; however, we’re talking about two different nationalities with two disparate cultures. I’m not excusing the Mexican fans one iota.

              • Rory Miller says:

                Why can’t the be civilized and just yell “You suck @$$hole” on every goal kick like us civilized folk?

              • Ian says:

                YSA is lame, but it doesn’t cut deep like “p*to.” Not even close.

              • Rory Miller says:

                Well to be fair I didn’t know what Punto meant until you told me, so I blame you for spreading it. (just kidding).
                Growing up I thought punto meant weak or sissy or b-yotch but didn’t ever hear the other association.

              • Ian says:

                Haha, Rory, “punto” means point. “P_to” is an epithet.

              • Maykol says:

                Most people use puto to mean
                B**** or f***

        • Cosmosfan says:

          Don Garber is already planning his next fan language campaign with CONCACAF.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      You could in theory prefer MLS fans with pre-sales and exclusivity. Last time I tried, you have to like sign up with the FA to buy England home area tickets. The MLS teams sell to anybody, without restrictions, to fill the park and make the money. You can’t then complain the fanbase is not necessarily yours.

    • Ian says:

      How can I let a ticket like this go to a TJ fan? I’m a college professor and had a class full of students from 6:30-9:00 last night. I imagine I’m not the only diehard Galaxy fan with a job.

      I get your point and I’m also disappointed at the ratio of LA to TJ fans last night. It would have been nice to see more home support. LA deserves bigger home crowds in general; not just last night.

      The LA sports market is saturated. That’s the only rationale I can wrap my head around. Seattle and KC have three pro teams each. By contrast, LA has nine. So you’re comparing apples and oranges. Seattle and KC are not Los Angeles.

      • Brain Guy says:

        Prepare to get the “but you’re in a gigantic metropolitan area” response that RBNY supporters get every time they don’t sell out a home game.

        • Ian says:

          That is a fair point that we as LA fans must concede. There are 15 million people within an hour of StubHub Center. That said, those 15 million still have finite resources and must choose where to spend their time and money. The Galaxy is relatively low on the pecking order. That’s the best explanation I can muster. It’s an issue smaller markets don’t have to deal with. Lucky for them.

      • MJ says:

        To make even more of the point, Tijuana has what I would assume is one professional team (maybe a baseball team?). Add in the fact it’s right across the border from LA it requires little to no travel.

        Also, even in KC and Seattle, there will be away fans just because of allocation and Mexicans living in the US. being at KC last night, there were a number of sections with Azul groups. It’s like playing the Yankees or Red Sox in any other country. There will always be casual fans and home-country fans that will support whatever team is playing. Just the nature of the beast. At least LA prepared for it

        • beachbum says:

          don’t a lot of their fans and ticket holders live in San Diego?

        • Rory Miller says:

          Pretty sure San Diego is right across the border from TJ. Also pretty sure that LA is NOT that quick of a trip from LA.

          • Ian says:

            Estadio Calient to StubHub Center: 132 miles, 2h 9m according to google maps. Traffic changes everything, but it’s very realistic to make it that fast if you leave around 10am.

  4. David M says:

    Did Cruz Azul and Tijuana field their strongest teams?

    • Cosmosfan says:

      Cruz Azul fielded an entire team of backups. Not sure about TJ, but think it was at least somewhat mixed.

    • mouf says:

      Cosmosfan has no clue what he is talking about.

      Jesus Corona (c); Gerardo Flores, Julio Dominguez, Luis Amaranto, Rogelio Chavez; Mauro Formica, Christian Gimenez, Alejandro Castro; Joao Rojas, Mariano Pavone, Marco Fabian

      The big guns palyed

  5. Dc says:

    In a Fox commercial at halftime, they had a Bill O’Reilly commercial that stated as a tagline “No Spin.” I almost soiled myself. That is just too funny.

  6. beachbum says:

    Penedo, thank goodness for him. He was stellar

    Keane will need to step it up. LD served exactly ONE good ball from all those set pieces, one. And it led to a great chance and a just miss header. He picks up that service and we have a great chance down there but it needs to happen pronto

  7. richie says:

    great recap…thanks mark!

  8. Catamount says:

    One factor not mentioned. Galaxy came off 3 days rest for the second game of the season. Xolos will have 2 days rest for Tuesday’s matchup. It will be interesting to see who plays for Tijuana on Saturday. That will tells us something about the importance of Tuesday. It will also be interesting to see if the Galaxy fade like they did in the second half on Wednesday.