CCL: Juninho Saves Los Angeles Galaxy in 2-1 Victory over Monarcas Morelia

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst ISeptember 29, 2011


Tomas Boy and Monarcas Morelia, you may have a clutch performer in Miguel Sabah. But this is the CONCACAF Champions League, and on any given night, two can play at that game.

Say hello to Los Angeles's version of Sabah: Juninho.

A scramble off a Landon Donovan corner found the young Brazilian, who sent an untouchable ball past Monarcas keeper Federico Vilar en route to a 2-1 statement victory that keeps Bruce Arena's Galaxy alive—at least until the final match day of the group stage.

Mike Magee opened the scoring in the 20th minute, when Todd Dunivant's delivery found the foot of red-hot Mike Magee. Rafael Marquez Lugo equalized matters at the hour mark as a result of poor miscommunication between goalkeeper Josh Saunders and Bryan Jordan.

In the end, this result is a tribute to Morelia's inability to finish. Save for one legit opportunity, Miguel Sabah's magic that helped the Monarchs at Estadio Morelos ran out at the Home Depot Center.

Furthermore, a frustrating night offensively came as the result of a number of wasted shots by the likes of Yasser Corona, Angel Sepulveda, Damian Manso, Luis Miguel Noriega and Marquez Lugo.

Morelia had so many chances to bury this match, but either the attempts went wide left, wide right, bounced off the woodwork and cleared, or collected. It was an inexcusable night of finishing for a Monarcas side that wanted to sweep the Galaxy, especially with a majority of the 7,500 in attendance donning red and yellow.

As for the Galaxy, playing desperate football will work wonders against Real Salt Lake this Saturday. RSL were eliminated from contention for the MLS Supporters' Shield with their 3-0 defeat to the Chicago Fire, but the 4-1 defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium is on the minds of the Galaxy players.

They know that aside from Seattle, Real Salt Lake is the one team that could derail the Galaxy's changes at winning the MLS Cup.

The stakes are considerably lower, but the need to make amends remains, and Los Angeles must get the job done.

Juninho's goal made up for the late winner surrendered to Sabah at Morelos, and he celebrated the victory in his way by replicating Robbie Keane's celebration. Injuries prevented Keane and David Beckham from taking part, although Beckham was suspended for the match on yellow-card accumulation.

As an aside, perhaps Juninho should change his full legal name to Juninho Pereira Fitzpatrick. Only a suggestion, mind.

With the result, all eyes are on Tegucigalpa, and the Group A finale with C.D. Motagua. The Galaxy need to know how to win on the road, and on paper, this should be the easiest team to defeat away. However, if one takes into consideration the fact that Tauro F—a side that was swept by Toronto in group play—ambushed FC Dallas 5-3, nothing is for certain.

Nonetheless, this match becomes the moment of truth for Bruce Arena's Galaxy, and a victory will give them the privilege to partake in the championship round of the region's most prestigious club competition.

Kickoff between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Club Deportive Motagua at Tegucigalpa's Estadio Nacional is scheduled for October 20 at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

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