Defending MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy head to Bayamón, Puerto Rico to take on the NASL's Puerto Rico Islanders in the Group Stage of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. The Islanders will be hoping to earn their first point in this year's competition, following heavy defeats in their opening matches in El Salvador and Los Angeles. Having secured a playoff spot, the Orange Troop come from a convincing 2-0 in front of a great home crowd against the Minnesota Stars in NASL action.
“I’m glad to have all my team back,. It feels great to have my team whole after some of players were away on international duty. I know that when Islanders supporters show up, the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium is as loud as any stadium around. Hopefully the fans can bring the energy that they always do for big games and that can give us the edge, ” said Head Coach Adrian Whitbread
The Puerto Rico Islanders defeated the Minnesota Stars last Saturday displaying an attractive style, dominating all aspects of the match. It was open game with plenty of chances for both teams until David Foley’s cross found Anthony Vazquez’s forehead, allowing the center back to score his first professional goal to open the count at the 20th minute. Minnesota would then test the Islanders goalkeeper Richard Martin with shots from outside the box, due to a tight defense from the Islanders back four. Stars keeper Hildenbrandt would also save his team plenty of times, but it was until David Foley found a through ball pass from Joshua Hansen and made an over aggressive Hildenbrandt pay the price and secure the 2-0 win.
In the Islanders last CCL match, the team was defeated in convincing fashion by a youthful Galaxy side at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The visitors got off to the worst possible start when rookie Tommy Meyer put LA ahead inside of seven minutes. The score remained 1-0 going into halftime.
For the second time in the match, the Islanders gave up a goal shortly after the restart. 18-year-old Jose Villarreal doubled the Galaxy's advantage with his first goal in the competition just seconds after kickoff.
Two late goals in quick succession from Jack McBean and Michael Stephens put LA further ahead, though by that time the result was never in question.
It was sweet revenge for the Galaxy who were knocked out of the Champions League two years earlier by the Islanders at the Home Depot Center. That match finished 4-1.
Although the Galaxy did end up winning the reverse fixture in Puerto Rico, the scoreline wasn't enough to overturn the deficit, and the Islanders advanced to the tournament's group stage.
The Islanders must win or tie to remain alive in the quest to reach the knock-out stages of the competition. The Islanders reached the semifinals in the 2008-09 season but were eliminated at the group stage in 2009-10, 2010-11 and at qualifying stage in the 2011-12 tournament.
About LA Galaxy
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
MLS Record: 14W-4T-11L
Last Season: Finished 1st place in Western Conference with 67 points (19W-10T-5L); MLS Supporters' Shield, Western Conference Champion, MLS Cup Champion
Key Players: David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez