It’s a little difficult to love the LA Galaxy’s chances of gaining a result tonight as Bruce Arena’s team completes the trio of MLS-involved quarterfinal series openers in CONCACAF Champions League.
But I don’t find it so hard to like the Galaxy chances.
Costa Rica’s Herediano is the opposition, currently unbeaten in its last four matches as the teams launch their CCL quarterfinal series. Tonight’s contest (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel) is on the FieldTurf of Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, a smaller field, typically stacked and packed, where the hard-core fans are right on top of the playing surface. (It’s very “Jeld-Wen” that way … so it’s nothing the Galaxy hasn’t seen before.)
The Galaxy will be fighting this CONCACAF fight with a shorter stick. Landon Donovan is still on vacation, and the two-time defending MLS champs have yet to replace David Beckham and his Designated Player ability.
(MORE: Seattle falls in CCL series opener)
On the other hand, the Galaxy roster remains full of workers, and Arena’s teams are typically wise and well-organized. Those elements, along with some strong performances along the back line – which commanding center back Omar Gonzalez is sure to deliver, for one – are exactly what the soccer doctors order in these regional clashes.
The likes of Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, A.J. DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin, Juninho, Robbie Keane and others can be counted on to find the right spots, and to put in the work once they get there.
Without an MLS match to deal with this weekend, Arena is expected to field his top side – something like the one that hammered Chicago last weekend (4-0) in the team’s league opener.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday