CONCACAF Champions League on deck: Galaxy vs. TFC

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Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy begins its MLS title defense Saturday. Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Co. open this weekend against Real Salt Lake at the Home Depot Center, and that one looks like a whopper of a match waiting to happen.

Only, that’s not on the Galaxy’s mind at present. Arena wants to win every single match, believe me. Even if Major League Soccer’s playoff format continues to be overly forgiving – 10 of 19 teams make the post-season field – he wants all three points each and every time his men step on the grass. I’ve been around him after losses in April, six months until season’s end, when he was so hoppin’ mad about this, that or the other that he couldn’t even emerge from the locker room.

So what would be so significant as to distract a mighty manager like Arena from a properly launched title defense? This is what.

The Galaxy meets Toronto FC tonight in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. In the linked article, ESPN-LA’s Scott French, a longtime So-Cal soccer scribe, tried to get to the bottom of the Galaxy center back situation. A.J. DeLaGarza will almost surely start in his usual spot along the back line. But who will stand beside him in Omar Gonzalez’s absence? No one is saying.

That’s an important position, because Dutch striker Danny Koevermans is on the case.  He supplied 8 goals in 10 matches for TFC upon his summer arrival last year in Ontario. That’s a heck of a strike rate.  And he’s pumped over this one, as a sellout crowd of 45,000 is set to make the Rogers Centre an uncomfortable place for the visitors Wednesday evening.

Two quick things to note: Beckham has never enjoyed playing on artificial turf.  And Julian de Guzman, TFC’s linking midfielder, is suspended for this one.

I’ll have more later on tonight’s other match, Seattle vs. Mexico’s Santos from CenturyLink Field.