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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
GALAXY: One eye on Champions League

By Scott French

The Galaxy's focus is on Major League Soccer play at the moment, with a weekend-midweek trek to play the Pacific Northwest's expansion clubs just ahead, but the CONCACAF Champions League looms ahead.

L.A. will begin group play Aug. 16, 17 or 18 -- when, where and against whom to be determined. Theirs could be the toughest group, if Mexican Clausura runner-up Morelia and Honduran power Motagua get through the preliminary round, as expected. (Costa Rica's Alajuelense is the other seeded team in Group A.)

The tournament begins Tuesday with the first of the first legs in the preliminary round, and there's plenty to watch: three MLS clubs (Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, Toronto FC), all televised on Fox Soccer Channel; upset kings Puerto Rico Islanders, from the second-division U.S. league; and two Mexican clubs, Santos Laguna along with Morelia, both expected (as with every Mexican club) to at least get through to next spring's semifinals.

The battles Galaxy fans will want to watch most closely begin Thursday, with Morelia home against Haiti's TempÍte and Motagua facing Guatemala's Municipal in Tegucigalpa. TempÍte, its stadium still in post-earthquake rebuild mode, will play its home leg on Aug. 3 at Morelia; Municipal is home in the other series on Aug. 4.

The full preliminary-round schedule:

San Francisco FC (Panama) vs. Seattle Sounders
First leg Tuesday at La Chorrera, Panama
Second leg Wednesday at Seattle

Herediano (Costa Rica) vs. Alpha United (Guyana)
First leg Tuesday at San Jose, Costa Rica
Second leg Aug. 4 at Providence, Guyana

Toronto FC vs. Real Esteli (Nicaragua)
First leg Wednesday at Toronto
Second leg Aug. 2 at Esteli

Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) vs. Puerto Rico Islanders
First leg at Wednesday at Metapan
Second leg Aug. 3 at Bayamon

Santos Laguna (Mexico) vs. Olimpia (Honduras)
First leg Wednesday at Torreon
Second leg Aug. 3 at Tegucigalpa

Morelia (Mexico) vs. TempÍte (Haiti)
First leg Thursday at Morelia
Second leg Aug. 3 at Morelia

Alianza (El Salvador) vs. FC Dallas
First leg Thursday at San Salvador
Second leg Aug. 3 at Frisco, Texas

Motagua (Honduras) vs. Municipal (Guatemala)
First leg Thursday at Tegucigalpa
Second leg Aug. 4 at Guatemala City