The LA Galaxy got all the goals they needed, and the CONCACAF Champions League has two MLS-vs.-Mexico showdowns set for the semifinals.
Omar Gonzalez nodded home Juninho’s corner kick in the 18th minute and Jose Villarreal, Robbie Keane and Jack McBean added second-half goals as the Galaxy reached the Champions League final four for the first time with a 4-1 triumph Wednesday night over Herediano at The Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy will now take on two-time defending champion Monterrey in the semifinals, over two legs in early April, and will be home for the first leg on April 2, 3 or 4.
Gonzalez sharply headed Juninho’s far-post serve past Herediano goalkeeper Daniel Cambronero from about eight yards to give LA the advantage. It took a bounce and deflected off defender Marvin Obando, standing on the goal line, and into the net.
Villarreal, making his first appearance for Los Angeles since returning from a three-goal performance for the U.S. at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, took advantage of Herediano’s push for an equalizer to double the advantage.
He took a pass in space from Sean Franklin, twirled to elude Esteban Granados, then fired past two defenders and Cambronero with a superb shot to the left side of the net. The goal was vital: Herediano would have advanced, on the away-goals rule, had they scored a goal for a 1-1 tie.
Keane scored from a tight angle following a Michael Stephens feed in the 83rd, firing past Cambronero and into the left-side netting, and McBean fired to the upper-right corner deep into stoppage.
Elías Aguilar bagged a consolation goal for Herediano in the 85th minute.
Herediano started the game in a defensive posture, making it difficult for Los Angeles to penetrate through midfield and keeping scoring chances to a minimum. The Galaxy had an opportunity to double their lead in the 27th minute, but Cambronero dived to knock aside a sharp shot from Sean Franklin.
Herediano, who went to an attacking formation after bringing on Minor Díaz and José Sánchez at halftime, came close three times in the first half – Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini parried an Ismael Gómez free kick over the crossbar in the eighth minute, Gómez fired just wide of the left post in the 24th and Granados poked the ball wide in the 34th – and nearly pulled even in the 54th, when Aguilar headed over the crossbar when presented an open shot in the goalmouth.
The Galaxy are back in action on Sunday, when they take on city rival Chivas USA in the SuperClasico (5 pm ET, UniMas).