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Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Club Deportivo Motagua: Do-Or-Die In Tegus

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IOctober 17, 2011

The LA Galaxy's sternest challenge of the season awaits on Thursday in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
The LA Galaxy's sternest challenge of the season awaits on Thursday in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.Victor Decolongon/Getty Images


Tegucigalpa. The epicenter of Honduran life. A city of over 1.1 million strong. On Thursday night, it will be the home of the biggest test to date for Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy.

That's right everyone, it's the final match day of the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, and for the Galaxy, it is an absolute must-win.

Of course, they will know that for sure when Alajuelense and Morelia clash. However, nothing should be left for chance against an opponent who may already be out of the running for the knockout stages, but can still play spoiler on Thursday night.

Unfortunately for Motagua, they are facing some pretty long odds to defend their turf. It has been a sorry season for the Blue Eagles, who are currently 2-6-4 (10 points) and saw manager Ramon Maradiaga sacked in favor of Mexico's José Treviño.

Furthermore, chaos in the locker room ensued, with Colombian striker John Palacios leaving the team after one month with his new club.

In spite of the chaos, Jerry Bengtson remains the biggest threat to the Galaxy's chances of sealing qualification to the knockout rounds. Bengtson has six goals this season for Motagua.

Galaxy forward Chad Barrett emphasized the need for a result in Tegucigalpa.

“It’s a must win. We’re not looking for a tie," Barrett told the press on Sunday. "We are going to know what we need to do (Morelia hosts LD Alajuelense on Tuesday). That’s beneficial, but really we need to win, we need to have that mentality, we are going to train with that mentality all week and that’s what we need to do.”

Can Los Angeles get the job done against Motagua?
Can Los Angeles get the job done against Motagua?Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Galaxy are 19-4-10 (67 points) on the season and are Major League Soccer's best team. However, they have issues themselves, namely injuries that have made a number of players questionable, including Landon Donovan and David Beckham.

Forward Robbie Keane will be unavailable for the Motagua match due to a strained quad muscle. That means Chad Barrett or Adam Cristman could get the call up top to team up with Donovan.

Back issues have plagued Beckham's deliveries, and it will be an adventure as to where those deliveries will be placed. For the home fans in Honduras, it will be a rare opportunity to see Beckham up close and personal, as well as Donovan.

Finishing the play will be important, aside from the backline of A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant and Gregg Berhalter denying Bengtson open space to create chances in Motagua's attacking third.

Los Angeles are coming off a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA that could have been more if Barrett finished the numerous opportunities sent in his direction. With Donovan given the day off against Chivas, some of the burden could be taken off on Thursday night.

Donovan leads the team in league regular season goals with 12, while Beckham's 15 assists in league play is also a team-high.

Prediction:
Motagua are going to have a tough assignment in trying to stop the Galaxy. It will all come down to finishing, as has been the case for a majority of Los Angeles's matches this year. Look for Donovan to make his match on Thursday.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Club Deportivo Motagua 0
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

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