Laurent Courtois scored an early goal and the Los Angeles Galaxy beat El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan 1-0 Wednesday night to take command of their group in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Courtois scored in the sixth minute from a Jose Villarreal pass. The Galaxy (2-0-0) – playing in a rare 4-3-3 formation, at least when on attack – posted their second shutout in the competition to pull ahead of Costa Rica’s Cartagines (1-1-1) atop Group 8.
Los Angeles will reach next year’s quarterfinals with a draw or victory next week at Cartagines.
Metapan (0-2-1), which will be home against Los Angeles on Oct. 24, was eliminated from contention.
”We’ve played much better this year as a team and lost games,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.
”And this competition, it’s about advancing, and tonight the most important aspect of this game was getting three points, and that was accomplished. So we’re in good position to advance – we still have to earn a point, at least, to advance, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead.”
Arena, looking ahead to Saturday’s MLS showdown with the Seattle Sounders, included only a half-dozen regular starters on his 18-man game roster, and all began the game on the bench.
The Galaxy were sloppy and Metapan’s lack of precision up top was helpful.
”We’re leaving here satisfied with the result, because our players did everything they could on the field,” Metapan manager Jorge Rodriguez said. ”Not everybody can create chances against the Galaxy.”
Courtois, a 35-year-old Frenchman that Los Angeles picked up in July from cross-stadium rival Chivas USA, scored his first Galaxy goal in the sixth minute.
Villarreal took a throw-in from Greg Cochrane on the left wing next to Metapan’s box and dropped the ball back and into the box for Courtois, who curled a shot just inside the far post.
Metapan goalkeeper Henry Hernandez made leaping saves on Courtois in the 19th minute, Chandler Hoffman in the 32nd and Villarreal in the 53rd.
Los Caleros had several opportunities, but Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe made a diving stop on a Jose Peraza shot in the 17th minute and defender Kofi Opare halted a Nicolas Munoz breakaway just inside Los Angeles’ box in the 83rd.