LOS ANGELES -- Eventually the translator gave up.
Tired of repeating the same phrase again and again while providing the English version of Tijuana coach Cesar Farias' news conference, he broke character.
"Once again the coach mentions that this is not a 90-minute series," the translator said in third person. "They're going to play at home against the Galaxy and he trusts that his team can advance to the semifinals."
Maybe the coach - or the translator - didn't think the message was getting through. He didn't have to translate for American midfielder Joe Corona, but the message was the same regardless of the messenger or the original language.
"It’s going to be different in Tijuana with our people, a lot of energy from the fans, and I think we’ve got to have a lot of patience," Corona said. "There’s still 90 minutes to go, so I think the team will do well and we’re going to push forward."
Bruce Arena's mantra wasn't "90 minutes" but rather "well aware." The Galaxy are "well aware of the fact that Tuesday will be a difficult game. We’ll be ready," Arena said. (They're also "well aware of the fact that we’re playing on an artificial field", which Arena said won't trouble a team used to playing on those surfaces in league play like the Galaxy.)
The Galaxy's goal was a bit lucky, with Robbie Keane's trap attempt going horribly wrong but falling right into the path of Samuel. The winter acquisition claimed he was expecting the ball to fall to him, and the fact that he stroked it past Cirilo Saucedo lends a bit of credence to that claim.
The clean sheet, however, could be attributed mostly to hard work rather than good fortune. Center backs Leandro and Omar Gonzalez were mostly able to keep Tijuana's attack in check and Jaime Penedo was superb behind them, twice clearing the ball off his line. Marcelo Sarvas' second-half block came when he was well-positioned to stop a set piece, though perhaps some luck was involved.
While the Galaxy would've liked to score a second or third or fourth goal and take a bigger advantage into Baja California, Landon Dononvan said the pregame plan to win and not concede an away goal was executed.
"Those two objectives were met. All in all, it was probably a justified result. I don’t think we created enough chances to score a second," said the veteran midfielder.
Both coaches stuck to their messages after the match, but they'll surely have new instructions for how they want their teams to approach the second leg.
What won't get lost in translation is that both teams are confident but realize there's work to be done.
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