Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.com
By ADAM SERRANO
MORELIA, Mexico — The Los Angeles Galaxy have arrived in Mexico with a target on their back.
The Galaxy sit on top of their CONCACAF Champions League Group with six points after a pair of wins against Alajuelense and Club Motagua at home. However, now the Galaxy leave the safety of the Home Depot Center and enter Latin America where their team buses are protected by police escorts that slice through the Morelia traffic. Although the Galaxy are receiving a great deal of publicity in the community, much of the emphisis lies on who isn't in town — David Beckham.
The midfielder has been experiencing back spasms of late and admitted that he was not at his sharpest during the club's 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids this weekend. Although there was a great amount of hype surrounding Beckham's trip to Morelia, Bruce Arena could only shrug at the fact that his star midfielder did not make the trip to Mexico.
"He was either going to play on Friday or here, he should not be pressed to play three games in week. He's got a few aches and pains, and this made the most sense," said Arena. "We're doing what's in the best interest of the player, it's not a traveling circus, we have to do what's in our best interest."
Beckham is not the only major player absent as Brazilian midfielder Juninho is also suspended after earning a red card against Alajuelense. Without Juninho, the Galaxy are likely to slide Landon Donovan into the center of midfield and allow Chris Birchall to play in defense, freeing up Mike Magee to potentially take Donovan's spot along the wings.
Despite the loss of two cogs in the center of midfield, the Galaxy will get a favor from the field at Estadio Morelos, which appears well-manicured and could help Los Angeles' possession-oriented style of play.
"The field plays really well to possession," said defender Todd Dunivant. "It’s a little bit on the spongier side so any balls that are bouncing I think are going to die down quick. There will be a lot of times to play possession. Not really any bad spots on it, it plays true. It’s really a great surface."
Morelia poses a significant challenge, because the Mexican side is currently unbeaten in three matches and is coming off its biggest win of the season against Cruz Azul in the final minute of their game on the weekend. A goal came from Joao Rojas, a speedy Ecuadorian left winger who is part of a formidable tandem on the left side along with veteran Mexican international Jaime Lozano at left back.
The challenge facing Los Angeles is not strictly limited to the field, but also the conditions as altitude – Morelia sits at 6,300 feet above sea level — and the undoubtedly hostile reception that the Galaxy will receive from the crowd at Estadio Morelos. Although the task is difficult, MLS teams have shown the ability to win in Mexico, as FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders have each picked up victories in Mexico in recent weeks. While these results show that MLS teams can win in Mexico, Arena believes that they are a double-edged sword for the Galaxy.
"I think that the results that Seattle and Dallas got, don't help us." asserted Arena. "I think Morelia will come close to playing a full team. Dallas played reserves and youth players, and Seattle didn't play against the full first team either. We're going to play against the first team in my mind."
While the records of past teams may or may not help their cause, the captain of the Galaxy expects a full squad to line up against them when the two teams take the field on Tuesday night.
"What’s happened in the past is that Mexican teams could field a B or a few members of their A team and some kids from the youth team," said Donovan. "Now they realize that it’s just not good enough and they’re not going to win that way. With a big crowd showing up tomorrow, my guess is that they’ll bring as close to a full team as they can and they’ll be ready to go."
There is a certain former player from Club America that would dissagree with your statement.
Cool — separate piece now up! Thanks, SBI! 🙂
Your wrong, d@mn wrong.
dude take it easy, we’re all just a bunch of mexicans having some fun. soccerbyives wouldnt survive if it werent for a bunch of mexican/americans and mexicans ribbing each other over their respective national teams. you dont know that timoteo? you dont like this mexican stuff cause you’re the racist who doesnt like to be reminded that you’re outnumbered in here
“of all the comments, i wonder how many of these are being made by people that actually know mexico. i am from los angeles, but i have a house in baja and have lived in mexico city…”
Thanks for pointing this out. I also have extensive experience living and working in Mexico and with day to day life in some parts of the country, and also often wonder the same thing. I think the percentage is relatively low, based on the kinds of things people tend to say.
of all the comments, i wonder how many of these are being made by people that actually know mexico. i am from los angeles, but i have a house in baja and have lived in mexico city. in my experience it is never the ‘rich famous person’ that runs into trouble, it is his/her family (kids, siblings, etc).
if sir bex is avoiding travel to mexico because of this, he is an idiot. just like many of the uber rich throughout mexico, it isn’t hard to put a security force together to protect yourself . . . the difficulty is keeping your relatives safe; and i really doubt his family is coming.
You’d think so, but the cops in Mexico are shady as hell. Unless los federales are providing security, it won’t be airtight.
Beckham has a fractured spine, genius.
No Becks and no Juninho equals a gutted midfield. I’m hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.
No, they invented soccer!
Not that this was on the same level as the Sarah Palin thing, of course. Unless you’re saying SBI is publicly and explicitly opposed to the LA Galaxy and is consequently out to get them, which really does not appear to be the case…
Agreed. I’d rather hear “back spasms” than “wedding” or “testimonial match”
What do you mean no history? Seattle invented the MLS!
I’m sure two professional soccer teams and the CCL organization can provide enough security and that the drug wars played no part in his decision. It’s not exactly like he was going barhopping.
I suspect being 36 years old and doing 90 minutes of calisthenics and sprints twice a week and then training longer hours but less impact of the same thing would wear you out pretty quick. No reason to jump on the guy. If he hadn’t said back spasms or something similar he would be attacked even more for lacking commitment.
I don’t think he was trying to bash Seattle, but was just removing bulletin board material for Morelia. It would have got the players, coaches, and fans hyped up and angry if he mentioned that two MLS teams without great history pranced in and beat two storied Mexican teams in a month. Much easier to put out vanilla remarks and play against a calm team.
Do you think that was what made the difference in terms of this entry appearing or not? It does not seem so, to me.
Yes, and it isn’t as though advanced age and physical problems are in any way related.
Only if Beckham won’t be playing
You should also tell them you are going to go work for a different company for a few months every year and expect them to welcome you with open arms when you return…..even if you are not even close to being their best worker.
In other CCL news involving MLS teams at the top of their group, I’ll be taking in Santos Laguna’s hopefully unpleasant visit to DSGP this evening to face Colorado. This match seems at least important, if not portentially more important, to the final outcome of that group. Thought it might be covered at least in passing as part of this piece, but hopefully we’ll see a separate entry on it, still?
if anything does happen i’m clearly blaming SBI…and Sarah Palin.
(note that that is to Hans’ reply, not to the original comment)
Yes, that’s a perfectly fine explanation. Which is why we didn’t need the back spasms line thrown in there.
I think I’m gonna try the back spasms line with my employer.
To the author/SBI editor: do you think “have a target on their back” is the metaphor/cliche that you want to use in this instance? I know nobody takes it literally, but have you noticed that there is a drug war going on in Mexico as well as soccer games?! Google “La Familia Michoacana.” That may have more to do with Beckham’s absence than “back spasms” and the infallible, unmovable decision of Coach Arena.
no sh*t. If your mexican american there’s no reason to start defending mexican nationals that behave like culos because you’ll always be a gringo.
that said, keep the racist, prejudice remarks out!
but remember he’s all “class”, according to the Eurofanboys on here.
Dude is 36. Playing several games a week just isn’t in the cards.
I thought you liked that kind of stuff.
Good to see Becks stealing lines from Dempsey’s playbook.
“back spasms.” pshh.
Will be interesting to see how the altitude effects the tactical approach to the game Arena puts together.
Stay classy American fans!!!
they’s bout to rip it up…and i see my man donovan pissing all over that mexican stadium too
Not probable, but fun to think about 🙂
“Seattle didn’t play against the full first team either.”
Nice of Arena to ignore that Seattle didn’t play their own first team against Monterrey and still found a way to win. Granted Seattle was lucky to come away with a win, but Arena could stand to give more credit where it is due.
Good luck to the Galaxy. Hope to see you come up with a win.
Galaxy will win 2-1 even with biased officiating