The LA Galaxy lost to Monterrey 1-0 in Mexico tonight, losing the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final series 3-1 on aggregate. Aldo de Nigris had the match winner for Monterrey tonight, after scoring the match winner in Los Angeles last week. The CCL final will feature Liga MX sides Santos Laguna and Monterrey going at it.
Omar Gonzalez was the far and away man of the match for the Galaxy, with twenty interceptions and clearances. It wasn't just that he was getting in the way of the ball, it was when and where he got the ball. It was sliding to stop and ball and then hooking the ball with his foot so it didn't go out of bounds. He also had eleven recoveries in an all around fantastic performance.
Also worth noting is Marcelo Sarvas with ten recoveries and six interceptions. He and Gonzalez were a battery there in the middle, from out of which the Galaxy were able to build possession.
Fine, so there was plenty to find fault with in the Galaxy's performance as well. Landon Donovan had a tall order going the full 90 in his first start his his sabbatical ended. Donovan took over corner duty from Juninho, so his distribution numbers look reasonable, but he and Keane were not the strike partners they were last year.
Speaking of Keane, getting one shot from your strike pairing simply isn't good enough. When the Galaxy were able to get possession, to string together some passes, there simply wasn't anything happening up top which would lend hope that a goal was possible.
The Galaxy's best chance happened with a Donovan corner fell to the pitch. With everyone losing track of the ball, Omar Gonzalez almost had a goal just by finding the ball with his foot before anyone could with their eyes. It took the trailing leg of Juan Ibarra to keep it out.
There will be more breakdown from this match in the morning, but for now it's worth concluding that two tournaments ago CONCACAF did a funny thing putting four Mexican sides on one side of the bracket and everyone else on the other. Real Salt Lake was able to beat a fellow MLS side, then get up on a Costa Rican side at home, before battling Monterrey close.
MLS has consistently gotten sides into the knockout stages of the tournament, but it's still dwarfed in the region by Mexico. That's fine. Liga MX is fifty years older and several times older richer. The reason it's okay for MLS to still be in the "learning lessons" stage as Alexi Lalas put it, is because the league is still growing, still has some training wheels, and is still learning what it takes to be tops in the region.