TIJUANA, Mexico -- Blessings and curses have been linked together since Biblical times, but Moses probably wasn't thinking about hosting the second leg of a Champions League series when he penned Deuteronomy.
Nevertheless, the benefit of hosting the second, and arguably most influential leg, is obvious. However, the danger of an away goal can not be ignored.
So when Tijuana hosts the LA Galaxy trailing 1-0 on aggregate, it'll be keenly aware of the possibility of conceding - and the American visitors are cognizant of their opportunity.
"Obviously we have an advantage in that regard, but as we said it's only half way through in the competition," Bruce Arena said at a news conference. "A goal in our favor tomorrow would go a long way toward helping us advance. We know the importance of that. We don't anticipate being defensive for 90 minutes. We need to get a goal. We know that."
With the Galaxy planning to attack, Tijuana will have to both fend off a team that includes dangerous players like Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and first-leg goalscorer Samuel, while also finding a a solution for an attack that misfired in the first half of the first leg and couldn't convert the chances it did find in the second 45 minutes.
Donovan in particular has always been a nemesis of both the Mexican national team and club teams south of the border, but Tijuana isn't making him a marked man.
"We know that he's a player who can be a difference maker," Javier Gandolfi said at a news conference.
"In this case, Donovan plays very well, intelligent, he moves very well, but I don't pay attention to any of those things," he continued. "Tomorrow, I believe that we'll depend on ourselves, the work we put in and we need to find a goal as quickly as possible to get the result."
The first moments of the match will be frenetic if the teams are believed. Players at both news conferences mentioned they'll be looking to score as soon as the opening whistle blows. The Galaxy will seek an early away goal that could kill off the tie and move it into a second consecutive CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, while Tijuana has to make up the difference after losing the first leg.
"Certainly in the first 15-20 minutes they'll want to come out and press us and play with high intensity, so that's what we expect and will be aware of," Keane said Monday evening.
It's a strategy that could pay off with Tijuana looking the better team in the second half of the opening leg. Both teams should be well rested, with the Galaxy's weekend match getting moved to accommodate this tie and Xolos playing a reserve lineup against Cruz Azul in a 2-1 defeat Saturday.
If neither team is blessed with an early tally, the match should settle into a rhythm, but if one concedes it will be left to chase the match and curse their fortune.
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