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Galaxy has edge, but playing in Tijuana could be CONCACAF equalizer

SportsMajor League SoccerLandon Donovan

The way Tijuana Coach Cesar Farias sees it, his team may be behind but it still has the advantage going into the second leg of its CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal with the Galaxy on Tuesday.

The Mexican club lost last week's opener of the two-game series, 1-0, and was outplayed by the Galaxy for long stretches of the match in Carson. But Tuesday's return leg (Fox Sports 2, 7 p.m.) will be played on the artificial turf of Estadio Caliente, where Farias' Xolos are nearly unbeatable.

"We've only played the first 90 minutes, nothing more," said Farias, whose team gave up an early goal to Brazilian forward Samuel in the first match. "In Tijuana we know it will be a different story."

The Xolos have lost only one of their last 19 games at home, posting 13 shutouts and outscoring opponents, 34-11. But even that may not be enough of an advantage against a rested Galaxy, which had a week off while Tijuana played Saturday in the high altitude of Mexico City, losing to Cruz Azul in a Liga MX game.

Plus all the Galaxy has to do is hold serve. Since the two-leg series will be decided on aggregate goals, if Tijuana wins 1-0 on Tuesday, that would only even the series at a goal apiece, sending it to overtime and, possibly, penalty kicks to decide who advances to the semifinals.

And if the Galaxy scores, the Xolos' chances dim even further since away goals serve as the series tiebreaker. So if Tijuana wins Tuesday's game 2-1, evening the aggregate score, the Galaxy would still advance on the strength of its one road goal.

"There's few places in MLS that are as difficult as going to Tijuana," said Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan, whose team was swept by eventual champion Monterrey in last year's CCL semifinal. "Fortunately we've had a lot of guys who have played in games like this and know what they're doing.

"We expect they are going to throw everything at us and we want that. We want a good test and a good challenge."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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