Los Angeles Soccer: Saprissa

GALAXY: Costa Rica trip stirs bad memories

September, 21, 2011
ALAJUELA, Costa Rica -- The Galaxy's trek this week to Costa Rica, for Wednesday night's CONCACAF Champions League clash with Alajuelense, has brought back memories of their last trip to the country, and they're not happy ones.

It was 5 years ago, and the Galaxy watched a two-goal halftime lead disappear in the second leg of a Champions' Cup series against Saprissa -- Alajuelense's archrival -- then lost in overtime after a phantom foul gave the Costa Ricans a free kick near the corner flag.

That wasn't what hurt.

“I remember starting really well, being up two goals, and then I remember us giving up a few bad goals and then losing eventually, 3-2,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said Tuesday. “But mostly what I remember was that that was the trip when Doug Hamilton passed away.”

Hamilton, just 43, was the Galaxy's esteemed general manager. He suffered a fatal heart attack flying home from the game as the team headed to Tamarindo, on Costa Rica's west coast, for four planned days of rest and relaxation.

The excursion was head coach Steve Sampson's idea. He had been Costa Rica's national team boss a couple of years earlier and knew that his players, preparing to defend their 2005 MLS Cup championship, would love the chance to see one of the world's most beautiful spots.

(Read full post)

CCL: MLS clubs will meet in quarterfinals

November, 1, 2010

CONCACAF's Champions League draw Monday pitted Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew in one of the quarterfinal pairings and assured an all-Mexico semifinal -- but, for once, not an all-Mexico final.

The pairings:

Monterrey (Mexico) vs. Toluca (Mexico)
Santos Laguna (Mexico) vs. Cruz Azul (Mexico)
Real Salt Lake (MLS) vs. Columbus Crew (MLS)
Olimpia (Honduras) vs. Saprissa (Costa Rica)

The Crew, along with Toluca, Cruz Azul and Saprissa, will be home for the quarterfinal first leg Feb. 22-24. The second leg in the home-and-home, aggregate series will be played March 1-3, with semifinals slated for March 15-17 and April 5-7 and the title matchup April 19-21 and 26-28.

Mexican clubs have won every semifinal since the current format was introduced for the 2008-09 season -- Atlante beat Cruz Azul in the 2009 final and Pachuca beat Cruz Azul in this year's title game -- and also won the final three championships under the former format, two of them in all-Mexico finals.

Two MLS clubs have reached the quarterfinals but gone no further since the CCL was introduced. The Houston Dynamo lost to Atlante in the 2009 quarterfinals, and Columbus fell to Toluca in this year's knockout opener.

Five MLS clubs were in the current tournament. The Galaxy was eliminated in the preliminary round, and the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC failed to advance from the group stage.