T-180 minutes to kickoff: So now we begin what we hope to be the first part of a long run for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League. This will be the very first time the Galaxy compete in this tournament under its current incarnation; the G's last took part in the CCL in 2006, when it was called the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
T-170: Let me go ahead and give you a little background on how this was drawn up. The competition's former format, called the Champions' Cup, had eight teams competing - four from the North American zone (two from Mexico, two from the United States/Canada), three from the Central American zone, and one from the Caribbean zone.
T-160: Since 2005, the champion of the competition also gained entry into the FIFA Club World Cup, giving clubs an added incentive for a strong participation and greater interest from fans. Also the Champions' Cup Runner-up would be one of the three CONCACAF invitees to the Copa Sudamericana.
T-150: The CONCACAF Executive Committee at their 2006 November meeting decided to "act upon" a proposal at their next meeting by the CONCACAF Secretariat to develop the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup into a larger “Champions League” style event. The CONCACAF Executive Committee reported on November 14th, 2007 some of the details.
T-140: The previous Champions' Cup format was used as planned in the Spring of 2008. Then, a newly expanded Champions League tournament was conducted starting in August 2008 and concluding in May 2009.
T-130: The setup involves 24 teams initially and features a Preliminary Round contested by some of the teams to reduce the field to 16 teams, which are separated into 4 groups of four teams. After the Group Stage, the Championship Rounds are held from the Quarterfinal Round onward.
T-120: We are now two hours away from kickoff here at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. A place also known simply as "Victoria Street." Now it's time for me to introduce our protagonists.
First, there's the Los Angeles Galaxy. Bruce Arena's club are doing relatively well this season in Major League Soccer, with a six-point lead on the Columbus Crew for the overall top spot in the standings(although the Crew currently have a game in hand over LA).
With a 12-2-4 record, they are also nine points to the good of Real Salt Lake (who also have a game in hand over the Galaxy). From this writer's perspective, I would believe Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts will emphasize this match a whole lot more than what will amount to nothing more than a glorified scrimmage at Reliant against Manchester United.
T-110: As for the boys from Bayamon, they are having a tough year in the USSF Division two Professional League, that one-year compromise of a competition after the NASL and USL could not reconcile in time to co-exist on their own terms.
Currently, they are 6-7-5 and occupy the cellar in the USL Conference. The only reason why they are here in the first place is because of a tournament called the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship.
It's really unfortunate that Jamaica chose to sit this one out. I would have loved to see Harbour View take on the Galaxy. Maybe I would have been able to savor some Jamaican patties with my ackee and fish.
T-100: But going back to the CFU Club Championship, the Islanders (also known as La Tropa Naranja—The Orange Troop) got a free pass to the second round as a results of the 2009 performance last year. They would face Haitian side Racing des Gonaïves.
Both teams technically comprised Group E, but it was really a two-legged aggregate contest. Puerto Rico trounced Racing 5-0 (2-0, 3-0) to move on to the final round.
T-90: In their first final round match, the Islanders defeated Puerto Rico Soccer League side Bayamon 3-0. They would then be tested by the Trinidadian clubs.
A last-gasp equalizer by John Hansen salvaged a 1-1 draw with Joe Public F.C. The contest with San Juan Jabloteh would determine the winner. A 19th minute goal by Nicholas Addlery sealed Jabloteh's fate, and the Islanders went on to win their first CFU Club Championship crown.
T-80: As for the Galaxy, plain and simple on how they got here. They won the MLS Western Conference on aggregate against the Houston Dynamo last season (bad lighting and all) to get here.
As the MLS Cup runners-up, they have the honor (or is that dishonor? Ask the gentlemen who botched the penalties last season with panache) of going through the Preliminary Round tonight. There is a good crown on hand here. They know how important it is for the team to storm past the gates early and often.
T-70: Other matches going on in the preliminary round today include San Juan Jabloteh vs Santos Laguna, San Francisco (of Panama, not up there) vs Cruz Azul, and Toronto FC vs Montagua of Honduras. Right now, Toronto is leading Motagua 1-0 while Santos and Jabloteh are in locked in a scoreless draw going into the break.
Tomorrow, Panama's Tauro F.C. takes on C.D. Marathón of Honduras, the Seattle Sounders clash with El Salvador's Isidro Metapan and Costa Rica's Brujas F.C. face off against Joe Public. The first leg wraps up with a match between El Salvador's C.D. FAS and Xelajú of Guatemala.
T-60: In other non-CCL action, Manchester United defeated the Kansas City Wizards 2-1 and Seattle defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1. One hour to kickoff, and you can just feel the excitment buzz in the air. Lineups.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY (USA)
League: Major League Soccer
Manager: Bruce Arena
Formation: 4-4-2 Diamond
Colors: White tops with blue and gold accents, white shorts, white socks
12 John Saunders
20 A.J. De La Garza ---- 22 Leonardo ---- 16 Gregg Berhalter ---- 6 Eddie Lewis
11 Chris Birchall
28 Sean Franklin ---- 10 Landon Donovan (C)
14 Edson Buddle ---- 21 Alan Gordon
1 Donovan Ricketts GK
4 Omar Gonzalez DEF
88 Alex Cazumba DEF
8 Dema Kovalenko MID
9 Jovan Kirovski MID
17 Tristan Bowen FWD
26 Michael Stephens FWD
PUERTO RICO ISLANDERS (PUR)
League: USSF Division-2 Professional League (USL First Division)
Manager: Colin Clarke
Colors: Orange tops, orange shorts, orange socks
1 Bill Gaudette
2 Scott Jones ---- 4 Marco Velez ---- 13 David Horst ---- 3 Richard Martinez
5 Noah Delgado (C) ---- 20 Josh Hansen ---- 8 Christopher Nurse ---- 18 Osei Telesford
7 David Foley ---- 11 Nicholas Addlery
23 Cody Laurendi GK
6 Alexis Rivera DEF
19 Kevon Villaroel DEF
21 Logan Emory DEF
15 Sandy Gbandi MID
9 Jonathan Fana FWD
10 Kendall Jagdeosingh FWD
T-50: A little history on the Islanders. In 1995, a team called the Puerto Rico Islanders joined the USISL, now the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The team had been founded by Joe Serralta and other Puerto Rican businessmen and had played only seven games before Serralta decided to move the franchise to Houston, Texas on June 1st, changing its name to the Houston Force.
The move was prompted by problems with the Puerto Rican Football Federation and low attendances. The Force folded after one game in Houston.
Eight years after Serralta's first attempt at professional football, he gave it another go and together with a new group of Puerto Rican businessmen officially created the current incarnation of the Puerto Rico Islanders. The team played their first A-League season, now the USL First Division, in 2004.
T-40: The original squad was composed of a large number of local Puerto Rican players and a contingency of foreign players composed of Americans, Brazilians, Salvadoran and Argentines completed this first squad, the team was coached by Brazilian Vitor Hugo Barros who was replaced several games into the season by Argentine Hugo Hernán Maradona, brother of the legendary Diego Armando Maradona.
Puerto Rico played its first league game in April 17, 2004 against the Toronto Lynx at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium, the Islanders lost 1-0 in front of a reported 6,000 fans.
T-35: Both teams now warming up.
T-30: The Islanders have a loyal fan base in Puerto Rico and a small but strong following in the States. Fans come from all over the Island to watch the club play in Bayamón, something uncommon for Puerto Ricans, who tend to be very regionalistic when it comes to supporting profesional sports. The team averages between 4,000 and 6,000 fans per game in its home stadium, Juan Ramon Loubriel. The club has three supporters groups the Batallon S-10, Orange Star Ultras and La Rabia Naranja.
T-15: Diego Maradona is out as Argentina's manager, Barcalona cite a huge financial loss...and it's 15 minutes to kickoff here at the Home Depot Center.
T-10: Raymond Bogle is our match official today. Linesmen are Stephen Brown and Kedlee Powell and Baldomero Toledo is our fourth official.
T-5: Gaudette was a former Columbus Crew goalkeeper from 2005-2006, and MArco Velez, a native of the island also played for TFC in 2008. Courtesy Joseph D'Hippolito (a.k.a. Josephus Hippolitus) of the Associated Press.
T-0: Both teams will enter to the FIFA Anthem, since this is outside of the MLS jurisdictions.
Final from Port-of-Spain: Santos Laguna 1, San Juan Jabloteh 0 thanks to Rodrigo Ruiz's goal in the 83rd minute.. Final from BMO Field: Toronto FC 1, C.D. Motagua 0. Chad Barrett scores in the 20th minute of that match.
FIRST HALF START: 7:06 P.M. PT
1' - And so the Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions' League journey begins. This is Gregg Berhalter. Juninho takes it early. Now here come the Orange Troop, but they are kept in check by the Galaxy midfield.
2' - Free kick for the Islanders' Noah Delgado. John Saunders will take that one. Goal kick.
3' - Juninho resets. LA will be wise to hold on to the ball and be creative tonight.
4' - Easy save for Bill Gaudette. Not a creative chance from Chris Birchall. He's been struggling this year. Back come the G's. Gaudette's gonna need to work his tush off tonight.
5' - Back come the Islanders. What anticipation from Bill Gaudette, breaking up the chance for Alan Gordon.
6' - Long ball goes nowhere. Here comes Eddie Lewis with the throw. That also goes into the desert. So far the Islanders are doing their part in holding the Galaxy at bay. LA will need to figure these guys out.
7' - Gaudette with the grab. Now back come the G's.
8' - This is Landon Donovan. The Galaxy go back on the offensive while the Islanders backline park the bus.
9' - Here's Marco Velez. Bogle is from Jamaica, and he asks A.J. De La Garza and Puerto Rico's David Foley to watch themselves as Saunders takes that one.
10' - Saunders will look to redeem himself for a poor showing in the Open Cup quarters against Seattle. Galaxy is fouled. Here's a set piece chance.
11' - Terrible shot from Juninho. Too much mustard on that hot dog. Goal kick Gaudette. A bullet dodged for the Orange Troop.
12' - There's a good save from Saunders on the Islanders counterattack. That's out for a goal kick. David John Foley is showing why he is the team's leading scorer. He's showing the hosts what he is capable of doing.
13' - Good marking from Richard Martinez. He is on the Puerto Rican national team, and he is showing his pedigree today.
14' - The Galaxy needs to speed up the tempo here. It's scoreless here at Victoria Street.
15' - Ambitious, but speculative effort by Alan Gordon. Here comes Puerto Rico. Set piece goes off. And here come the Galaxy on the counter.
16' - Good touch from Eddiew Lewis, and Marco Velez with the mark. Not bad football. Impressive defense from Bill Gaudette. Gordon should have done better.
17' - Puerto Rico called for offsides.
18' - The Orange Troop regroup. Berhalter clears that initial chance. This is a pretty good defensive side, and the Galaxy still haven't figured these guys out yet.
19' - Osei Telesford, formerly of Joe Public F.C., called for the foul. Set piece for Landon Donovan. That is swept by the Puerto Rico backline.
20' - Buddle unable to get help. Galaxy forced to regroup through Saunders.
21' - Corner for LA. Let's see what happens here.
22' - Acrimony. Take two. Berhalter butchers that header.
23' - Here's a corner for Puerto Rico.
24' - Too high a shot. Goal kick Saunders.
25' - 25 minutes into the match and Puerto Rico's defense is the reason behind the scoreless deadlock. Dubious decision by Bogle, as the boo birds are out in full force.
26' - Corner for the Islanders. Here it comes.
27' - GOAL! Puerto Rico Islanders #7 David Foley
This was not the start the Galaxy wanted. The poor form from the San Jose match is rearing its ugly head again.
28' - And you gotta be wondering, what the heck was A.J. De LA Garza doing inside the box on that goal? Atrocious defending.
29' - They can't buy a goal at this point, the Galaxy can't.
30' - Goal kick Gaudette. These guys need to up the creativity.
31' - Los Angeles needs to respond to that stinker of a goal given up, but they haven't been helping themselves so far.
32' - Foley would be useful in MLS. He is who Kendall Jagdeosingh was last year: a giant-killer.
34' - Los Angeles cannot afford to lose their cool. They are down 1-0.
35' - There is no question that of all the players struggling to find his scoring touch, you have to talk about Chris Birchall. He has not been in form this season, and it's showing again tonight.
38' - How impressive has Richard Martinez been. I tell you, this Islanders side can win two players down, so long as he still on the pitch.
39' - Substitution Los Angeles Galaxy
IN #26 Michael Stephens
OUT #20 A.J. De La Garza
This will put Sean Franklin at right back.
40' - Offsides, Galaxy.
41' - Here's Juninho. And there is some more solid defending from Puerto Rico.
42' - Set piece time.
43' - Landon has some explaining to do after this match is over.
Yellow card 5 Noah Delgado
Puerto Rico Islanders
44' - Edson Buddle got easily marked there.
45' - GOAL! Puerto Rico Islanders #11 Nicholas Addlery Assist 2 Scott Jones
These guys are not taking this tournament seriously. Shame on these players. Whereas for the Islanders, their season may be saved tonight, and who can blame them?
45' + 1' - One minute of additional stoppage time.
Bruce Arena, you got some explaining to do.
Los Angeles Galaxy 0
Puerto Rico Islanders 2
David Foley 27'
Nicholas Addlery 45'
SECOND HALF START: 8:08 P.M. PT
46' - The second half is underway, and let me tell you, they need to rally, and rally fast. This first half will go down as the worst first half of the season from the Galaxy and is in the running for the worst first or second this year.
47' - No help from the right, as Sean Franklin's cross goes into the safe hands of Bill Gaudette for the Islanders.
48' - That parried Juninho shot just exemplified how things have been for the Galaxy tonight. It has been a nightmare.
49' - Bogle hears the boo birds as a foul is called on Edson Buddle for stiffing Marco Velez.
50' - 50 minutes in, and it's 2-0 Puerto Rico.
51' - Leonardo misses his marker. It's been bad news from his bad touch.
52' - Chivas USA could break through this defensive backline of the Galaxy; it's that porous.
53' - The Islanders are getting numbers behind the ball and the Galaxy are paying the price for not pushing forward and upping the pace. You can never win hardware when playing like this. It simply won't happen.
55' - Back come the Islanders. And this is turning ugly. Real ugly.
56' - GOAL! Puerto Rico Islanders #20 Josh Hansen
This backline has been a total letdown from the start, and I don't know about you but Saunders may not be protected in the Expansion Draft next year. Hansen used to play for the G's. A little factoid.
60' - Here is Sean Franklin, and the lack of creativity from this club has been nothing but disastrous.
62' - 62 minutes in, and you are not seeing things—it's 3-0 Puerto Rico. I don't know about you, but after seeing that last save by Gaudette, Colin Clarke is not going anywhere.
63' - Eddie Lewis ahas seen better days
64' - Substitution Los Angeles Galaxy
17 Tristan Bowen
88 Alex Cazumba
21 Alex Gordon
16 Gregg Berhalter
66' - 66 minutes, and the Islanders are leading the Galaxy 3-0. You know, the Islanders need to thank Commissioner Don Garber for coming up with this horrid exhibition we call an "MLS All-Star Game." It successfully destroyed the formation.
69' - I thought this was going to be an own goal right there. Instead, it's a cleared corner.
70' - Corner for the G's. Terrible follow-through.
71' - 6,873 came out to see this stinkfest of a match.
Substitution Puerto Rico Islanders.
IN 19 Kevon Villaroel
OUT 5 Noah Delgado
74' - Bogle says advantage, and the Galaxy go back, hoping to at least salvage a goal.
75' - That set piece is stopped, and so is the corner.
76' - 76 in, and it's 3-0 Puerto Rico.
77' - Another stop from Gaudette. Here's the corner. And that was as bad as the others.
78' - Substitution Puerto Rico Islanders
IN #10 Kendall Jagdeosingh
OUT #7 David Foley
79' - I have a confirmation to make: this will go down as the worst game played this season by the Galaxy. Absolute worst. Forget about the other losses that may go down the road in league play; this is on pace to trump them all.
81' - GOAL! Puerto Rico Islanders #11 Nicholas Addlery
This Galaxy defensive backline is playing like a team of mummies.
83' - GOAL! Los Angeles Galaxy #3 Richard Martinez, Puerto Rico Islanders (own goal)
This is gonna be mere consolation, and the Galaxy will still need to win by at least four on August 4.
86' - Fire fans, if you are reading this, just think of Barack Obama, will you? And that four-letter word. It starts with an "H" and ends with "ope" and rhymes with "dope."
87' - Substitution Puerto Rico Islanders
IN #21 Logan Emory
OUT #20 Josh Hansen
88' - The fans have seen enough and are heading for the exits. This team will need to adjust when they head to Loubriel. We have been treated to a horrid performance from the Galaxy backline and the only reason the team is on the score sheet is due to an own goal.
90' - Let's see how many minutes of stoppage time Toledo will put here. Shouldn't be much. Two minutes.
90' + 1' - You can sense how much this means to the island of Puerto Rico right now. It means a lot.
90' + 2' - That's a wrap. It's on to the second leg.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY 1
Richard Martinez (own goal) 83'
PUERTO RICO ISLANDERS 4
David Foley 27'
Nicholas Addlery 45', 81
Josh Hansen 56'
Stay tuned for my take on this match on The View and on Bleacher Report.