5 PM PST, Fox Soccer Channel
The Los Angeles Galaxy (12-3-4, 1st place in MLS Western Conference) are in Puerto Rico, where they'll face the Puerto Rico Islanders (6-7-5, 6th place USL Conference in USSF Div. 2) in the return leg of a series with the winner qualifying for group stages in the CONCACAF Champions League.
In the first leg of the series, the Galaxy did just about everything wrong imaginable, with their only goal coming on a Puerto Rico own goal late in the second half. Puerto Rico managed to leave Los Angeles with four away goals, making the Galaxy's task on the return leg near impossible. The Galaxy will have to either score four goals and keep a clean sheet, or score five goals and give up no more than two. It will be no small task to take this series on aggregate, regardless of a Galaxy win or loss.
Juninho was one of a handful of players rested during LA's match against Chicago Sunday in order to focus on preparing for Puerto Rico. With the Galaxy comfortably 6 points ahead of Real Salt Lake, it's obvious which match coach Bruce Arena is placing the most emphasis on, out of the three matches in seven days the Galaxy have been challenged with. The friendly against Real Madrid then is likely to be played more like an exhibition than a warm up match, which starters receiving more rest than playing time, especially the likes of Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, who haven't gotten a bye to relax since the World Cup. Real Madrid will be treating this match as a warm up, playing at dress rehearsal speed as the European football season gets ready to go.
The Islanders are in the drivers seat to reach their third consecutive Champions League group stage. The only result that could knock them out is a four goal loss, or three goal loss should the Galaxy manage to put five in the back of the net. One could expect coach Colin Clarke, formerly of F.C. Dallas, to play this game conservatively, much like the second half of the game at Home Depot Center, after they had the game in hand 4 - 0. In the Galaxy's last three games, all at home, they've give up an astonishing 9 goals.
Having already been eliminated from US Open Cup play, tonight's match could be the Galaxy's last for the season in tournament competition, with all focus from here on the MLS Cup.