Soccerly.com had the opportunity to speak to LA Galaxy left-back James Riley following the MLS side's 1-0 win over Liga MX's Tijuana Xolos in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champion's League quarterfinals that was played at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif.
Riley was a starter for the match and played the entire 90 minutes helping his team earn a crucial shut-out denying the opposition of an all important away goal in the two match series. Here is what Riley had to say following the match:
Soccerly: It's been quite a whirlwind for you hasn't it?
Riley: Yeah, it has. It has been. I'm just very blessed to have landed with a club like this. Bruce (Arena) has given me the confidence to play, and I'm just taking everything day by day.
Soccerly: Seems like every time you've come at a fork in the road recently it has gone in your favor.
Riley: Yeah, absolutely. Again I think you make your own luck just by being prepared for opportunities and things of that sort. You just have to be patient, work hard, be diligent, confident in your identity and who you are and things will work out.
Soccerly: Despite the possession and the pressure that they (Tijuana Xolos) had, you looked quite confident out there.
Riley: Yeah, obviously they're a very good team, a difficult team. We definitely wanted to get a result tonight and we were fortunate enough to get one. I thought we could have had a couple more goals, especially in the first half. Second half obviously they had a bit more of the run in play, we bent but didn't break. So it was a good result overall. We know we have a tall tail ahead of us, but we are up to the task.
Soccerly: Did playing in a CONCACAF Cup bring back memories of the old days?
Riley: Yeah, it did. I've had some experience doing that playing with the Sounders. We've had the pleasure of being in the tournament before; so I'm familiar with the tournament, playing Mexican opponents and how good they are. They're very technical and can punish you for mistakes. Especially on the road down there, it is a totally different environment. We have a lot of experienced guys as well, so we're looking forward to it (return leg in Tijuana).
Soccerly: Now there is a bit of a debate going on in the north west about how much vocal support actually helps the opposition. You normally had the vocal support behind you, tonight you had it against you. How different is that?
Riley: Yeah, it was a bit different. In Seattle we always had the better of it. The Sounders were never outmatched by fans. Tonight was unique but definitely I think our crowd was loud the people that came out. We definitely appreciate that. And obviously Tijuana being so close they have support, and it was great. It was a great atmosphere.
Soccerly: Did it motivate you to have these guys against you?
Riley: Yeah, I think so. I think you're always motivated, but I think more so just representing the club gives you the motivation especially at home to win games in this tournament.
Soccerly: People are saying this can be the closest Western Conference for a while. Would you agree?
Riley: Yeah, I think so. The league continues to get better, teams continue to get better and make moves and acquisitions. The league in general continues to get better, so obviously the Western Conference will be very competitive and we’re looking forward to it.
Soccerly: We save the trick question for last. You played for several years under Sigi Schmid, Bruce Arena is of the same generation. What do you see as the differences and similarities in their styles?
Riley: They’ll both go down as legends in American soccer and coaching. I think it’s a bit too early to get into the differences. I think they both excel in competing and paying attention to detail, the little things. They know man management and how to manage games and put teams together. I like Bruce’s style, I like Sigi’s style; I was fortunate to be under him for three years and I look forward to being here under Bruce for a long time.
Soccerly: And the differences?
Riley: You’ll have to get back to me on that one. (Pause) Yeah, I plead the 5th on that one. (smiles) I’ll have to think about that one a little bit more.