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LA Galaxy and Santos Laguna battle to scoreless draw

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Galaxy started strong, but like other MLS teams in preseason form ran out of gas late as the much anticipated first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals vs. Mexican club Santos Laguna ended in a scoreless tie.

Right off the bat the Galaxy almost scored a fantastic goal. Giovani dos Santos looped a corner to the far post, and new center back Jelle Van Damme used his tall frame to outmuscle the Santos defender and slam a header centrally that required a phenominal reflex save from Argentine national team goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin to keep out of the net.

After Robbie Keane was fouled outside the box, the free kick attempt from dos Santos in the 15th minute was on goal, but the shot lacked pace and Marchesin easily read the shot. Moments later, Steven Gerrard played a brilliant one-time cross into the area for a streaking Robbie Keane, but his header was lame and the ball bounced wide.

The Galaxy outplayed Santos in the first half, but despite Marchesin having to make four saves, LA had nothing to show for their hard work.

Sporting a sharp haircut, Robbie Keane was fired up, charging down the field and finding Emmanuel Boateng making a deadly run in between the Santos center backs, however his run was away from goal and Marchesin was able to smother his shot attempt.

Ashley Cole was another bright spot for LA, at one point beating a defender after bringing a long ball down before firing a looping shot that just evaded the crossbar. In the 41st minute, Gyasi Zardes played an incisive pass to dos Santos from close range, but after turning dos Santos could only sweep the ball directly at the keeper. It was a big chance, and the El Tri international knew it. Santos Laguna defender Araujo then snapped a header right at Galaxy keeper Dan Kennedy off a corner kick to close off the half.

The second half was more subdued for LA, and eventually Santos began to work their way into the game. Early on Robbie Keane collided heads with a Santos defender and was briefly dazed before re-entering the game.

After carving out some decent half chances, Santos Laguna almost nabbed a vital away goal when an attacker slammed a volley inside the area following a corner kick, but dos Santos was stationed on the post and the shot rebounded off his side to the relief of Galaxy fans.

The Galaxy dodged another bullet when an AJ DeLaGarza foul led to a Santos free kick in a dangerous spot outside the box, and the restart ricocheted inches between a Santos attacker and the far post but avoided both as the attacker slammed off the post and fell injured to the turf.

Robbie Keane got into it with Santos Laguna manager Luis Zubeldia at the tail end of the match, but the two eventually embraced in apology. Mike Magee was subbed on late, but to no avail at the final whistle blew with the game tied 0-0.

The Galaxy now travel to Torreon next week to play the return leg of the series.