By Giovanni Savarese
CONCACAF.com Guest Analyst
The Preliminary Round of the CONCACAF Champions League has offered a number of interesting points, including the superiority of the Mexican clubs, the elimination of the Los Angeles Galaxy by the Puerto Rico Islanders and the predominant offensive mentality of the participating teams reflected in the high goals-per-game average.
The Islanders – or «Tropa Naranja» (Orange Troop) as they call themselves — demonstrated a lot of tactical discipline throughout its second-leg match against Los Angeles on Wednesday – a 2-1 loss at its Estadio Ramon Loubriel home in Bayamon, and, thanks to the sacrifice of its players, won each aerial ball that the Galaxy sent into the area.
The other end the strategy for Puerto Rico was to not give up any space near its own area, and look for counterattacks with its hard-to-handle forward and former D.C. United regular Nicholas Addlery, who moves well up front.
Without a doubt the most attractive and surprising result of the Preliminary Round was Islanders’ victory over the Galaxy.
Despite its second-division status, the Puerto Rican club was able to exploit its 4-1 advantage from the first-leg victory at the Home Depot Center. The Galaxy, coached by Bruce Arena, took to the field with all its weapons hoping for a comeback.
The match was marked by poor field conditions, defensive play of the home team, and the Galaxy’s inability in front of the net and time-wasting that frustrated the visitors and resulted in a large number of fouls.
We will have to see the Islanders can keep on achieving surprising results in the Group Stage as it did two years ago when the team reached the semifinals of the competition.
Despite being in the midst of poor domestic campaign this season, the Islanders look like the team to keep on turning heads like it did in the first edition of the tournament two years ago.