LOS ANGELES - Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles traveled to Los Angeles, CA to face the Galaxy in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champion's League (CCL) and took a 1-0 loss.
The first half was an intense battle where one defensive mistake was the huge difference maker. Both teams fought hard for the possession of the ball but were not able to creat many goal scoring opportunities. The home side was able to take advantage of the lapse in concentration from the visiting Xolos defense.
In the 11th minute Marcelo Sarvas sent in a long pass to the middle of the box looking for Robbie Keane who was left all alone in the box by the Tijuana defense. Keane could not get a proper control of the ball, which fell to his striking partner Samuel. The new Brazilian signing blasted the ball into the net from close range to open up the scoring.
The first sign of danger by the visiting Xolos came in the 21st minute when Fidel Martinez opened up the ball to Jaimen Ayovi on the right side of the field. Ayovi found the end line and sent in a low cross to where Joe Corona was running into, but the Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo did well to cut off the cross.
Both teams remained cautious of each other through the rest of the opening 45 minutes with the Xoloitzcuintles trying to become more aggressive little by little. With the lead in hand the Los Angeles side looked to punish Tijuana as soon as they committed too many men forward.
For the second half Club Tijuana came out with the firm conviction of finding the equalizing goal. Within a matter of minutes they created three dangerous situations two of the from free kicks and one from a long distance strike from Cristian Pellerano.
In the 51st and 54th minute free kicks from about 25 yards out take by Joe Corona were sent in as frontal crosses. On the first one Hernan Pellerano was able to jump up and header the ball towards the goal, and on the second Javier Gandolfi came in with a sliding shot. Both plays required big saves from Galaxy goalkeeper and were eventually called off for offside.
In the 57th minute Cristian Pellerano grabbed a hold of the ball in midfield and from about 20 yards out unleashed a shot forcing another big save from the LA goalkeeper Penedo.
Three minutes later in the 60th the goalkeeper nearly cost his side the equalizing goal when he came out to punch a cross from second half substitute Dario Benedetto; Penedo swung his fist and missed the ball which bounced off his teammate Omar Gonazalez and nearly rolled into the goal. Penedo was able to regroup and avoid the ball from crossing the goal line.
The Xoloitzcuinltes kept pressuring the entire second half for that crucial away goal to take home. In the 85th minute left-back Greg Garza sent in a dangerous cross to where second half subsititue Herculez Gomez arrived with a diving header. The ball went just wide of the goal. That equalizing goal would be denied to the Xolos despite all of the second half pressure.
The return leg will be next Tuesday night at the Estadio Caliente. A 1-0 win by the Xolos would send that game into overtime and potentially penalty kick shootout.