BAYAMON, Puerto Rico - The Puerto Rico Islanders advanced to the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League for the third straight year, prevailing on aggregate over Los Angeles despite a 2-1 loss
Starting with a three-goal advantage from a 4-1 first-leg victory in Los Angeles a week ago, the Islanders comfortably won its two-game Preliminary Round series 5-3 on aggregate.
Puerto Rico joins Group D with Mexico's Toluca, Olimpia of Honduras and the winner between FAS and Xelaju. FAS and Xelaju drew 1-1 lst week and face off in the second leg in Guatemala on Thursday.
The elimination of the Galaxy marks the third straight year Major League Soccer has been unable to get both of its U.S. teams past the Preliminary Round.
David Foley, who had the first of the four goals in Los Angeles, converted a penalty in the 33rd to put Puerto Rico ahead. Barbados referee Trevor Taylor pointed to the spot after Galaxy forward Edson Buddle locked arms with Marco Velez on a high free kick played into the area as the ball sailed to the far side, seemingly out of danger.
Puerto Rico committed three fouls in the first 74 seconds and drew a yellow card by Osei Telesford by the fifth minute. It stacked 10 players behind the ball from the start, leaving Nicholas Addlery alone up front to hold up possession until his midfield could join him.
Los Angeles had the majority of possession early, but Puerto Rico created two of the clearest chances within a minute of each other midway through the first half when Noel Delgado put a header over the bar and Christopher Nurse followed with a header that was deflected high.
The Galaxy recovered quickly from Foley's penalty, equalizing on an own-goal in the 37th when Puerto Rico defender David Horst - standing on his own line - attempted to clear Landon Donovan's shot, but kicked it off the leg of Velez in front of him and it rebounded into the net.
It was the second own-goal Puerto Rico had scored upon itself against Los Angeles in as many games. Last week, Richard Martinez put the ball in the Islanders' net, also off a deflection.
Los Angeles continued to push the play until the end, forcing Puerto Rico keeper Bill Gaudette into several acrobatic saves. He pushed wide a turning shot by Landon Donovan in the 50th and then punched away another close-range blast by the Galaxy captain less than two minutes later.
Gaudette's best effort came in the 74th, diving with his left hand to tip wide Alan Gordon's attempt from the middle of the area.
Los Angeles managed to score a second when Sean Franklin hit a turning shot from the middle of the area to finally beat Gaudette in the 84th. It was the 500th goal since the Champions League began more than two years ago.
The Islanders, who have the fourth-worst record in the 12-team USSF D-2 second-division league, will begin its Group Stage schedule against Olimpia on the opening night, August 17, at home against Olimpia.
The Galaxy which opened the Major League Soccer season with four straight victories and were unbeaten in their first 12 matches, have gone winless in their last four since a 2-1 victory at D.C. United on July 18.
Puerto Rico, which reached the semifinals of the inaugural Champions League in 2009, lost for only the second time at home in 11 in the continental championship. The defeat was the first since a 1-0 loss to Municipal on October 23, 2008, and ended a six-game unbeaten streak. However, Puerto Rico is winless in its last five since the semifinals of the first season.