Here's Joaquin's preview:
They say the crossbar is a goalkeeper’s best friend. If any of you never believed that, the first leg between Herediano and Los Angeles should have converted you. Mike Magee hit the crossbar for the Galaxy, and Herediano pinged it twice, once on a penalty, to ensure the 0-0 draw. Believe it, Herediano’s Daniel Cambronero and LA’s Carlo Cudicini have a common friend.
Do What You Do Best
Herediano proved why they’re the best team in Costa Rica with the dead ball. Their best opportunities to get the ball past Cudicini came off of set pieces, however, the Galaxy partially through skill and partially through luck, managed to keep them off the score sheet. The Galaxy needs to avoid reckless challenges near the box, and their defense needs to be at their best. Herediano will be desperate to earn free kicks within the range of Ismael Gomez and Elias Aguilar. It will be imperative that LA avoid any contact, however slight, anywhere in the attacking third, because the Costa Ricans will hit the ground.
Allowing Herediano to build up an attack could prove disastrous. The best way for the Galaxy to avoid that is to attack early, often, and relentlessly. It’s no secret that the conditioning of Central American teams is lacking, and LA needs to exploit that. For the first half of the first leg Herediano kept Gomez on the bench, bringing him on at the half. Their goal was simple, hold on, keep the game close, then bring in the big gun and have him take advantage of a tired opponent. This is exactly what the Galaxy need to do, take advantage of a tired opponent. With their superior conditioning, and a week off from league play, LA doesn’t have to rest their top guys to achieve this.
This game has the potential to be a classic with the Galaxy capable of sustaining attacking pressure for long portions of the game and Herediano gifted with the speed and skill for some beautiful counter attacking soccer. Unfortunately, it also has to potential to be a game of chicken with both teams approaching the game carefully and trying to avoid any mistakes on the way to another 0-0 draw. If either team takes a second half lead expect some bunker ball, but don’t expect it to last, because bunkering won’t work against either of these teams.
‘Tween the Sticks
The keepers may very well turn out to be the keys to the game. Both looked a little shaky in the first leg, should either team take an early lead they’ll need to shake off the nerves in a hurry, because they’ll see plenty of work. And this time the woodwork may not save them. Cudicini has been to the big games before, but needs to get the rust off from being on Tottenham’s bench. Cambronero needs to find the form that earned him a call up to the Costa Rican national team.
With all to play for in this leg both teams should come out attacking. The first game served as a feeler, so there should be no apprehension about attacking. The Galaxy are more talented and better conditioned, unless Herediano manages to take an early lead, they should be able to wear down Herediano and move onto the semis and a date with Monterrey.