Sporting KC and San Jose Must Learn from LA's Mistakes in Tijuana

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2014

Mar 12, 2014; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Samuel (9) and Club Tijuana defender Elo Castro Guadarrama (54) battle for ball in Champions League match at StubHub Center. The Galaxy defeated Club Tijuana 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night at the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana, the LA Galaxy drew out the perfect blueprint on how to lose in Mexico during the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. 

The Galaxy's defense opened wide for the Tijuana attack to take advantage of and, within 26 minutes, Bruce Arena's side were down by three goals.

Give credit to the Galaxy for actually putting up a fight in the second half and making the Xolos sweat it out at home, but in all honesty, they disappointed south of the border. 

While the Galaxy were being broken down by Club Tijuana, the other two Major League Soccer clubs left in the competition were put on notice. 

Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes must not be carved apart in the back so early against Cruz Azul and Toluca. If either team comes out flat like the Galaxy did, their time in the competition will expire.

On Tuesday night, it wasn't just the players with the least amount of experience that struggled, although I am calling you out Gyasi Zardes, the veterans in the LA starting XI looked flustered as well.

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The perfect example of this came on the second Xolos goal in the ninth minute as keeper Jaime Penedo, who has been one of the best players at his position since joining the Galaxy last season, made a Carlo Cudicini-esque mistake and let Jaime Ayovi fire away at an open goal.

Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane also didn't show up until the second half, when a two-goal comeback fell just short of the necessary goal of three, a total which would have put LA through on away goals. 

One experienced player who did step up and potentially inspire the remaining MLS clubs left in the competition was A.J. DeLaGarza. 

DeLaGarza was the one defender who actually defended well for the entire 90 minutes. If the back four of Sporting and San Jose can use DeLaGarza's solid performance as an inspiration, they stand a chance. 

Both teams have attacks that are made well for MLS, but when they face superior Mexican sides, the chances sometimes come few and far between.

To call both sides an underdog is an accurate statement since both teams scored just one goal during the home leg and San Jose conceded an away goal to Toluca.

Both teams have their backs against the wall, but they must not park the bus early on to prevent a surge like Tijuana had on Tuesday. 

Peter Vermes and Mark Watson must have their teams prepared to have the killer instinct because chances on goal may not come as rapidly as they did for LA in the second half. 

Mexico City and Toluca are two very hostile environments, actually any Mexican stadium presents that with an American opponent in town, but a win is possible if they use LA's performance as an example of what not to do with adversity staring them straight in the face.

Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report, you can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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